Carnegie Mellon and University of Karlsruhe Establish International Center for Advanced Communication Technologies

BY Byron Spice - Thu, 2004-02-12 12:00  Printer-friendly version

PITTSBURGH--Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Karlsruhe inGermany, both ranked number one in computer science in their respectivecountries, have agreed to jointly establish a new International Center forAdvanced Communication Technologies (InterACT).The focus of InterACT is to support human-to-human interaction acrosslanguage and cultural barriers, and to do research in pervasive multimodaland multilingual computing environments.

"We are very pleased to be collaborating with an institution as prestigiousas the University of Karlsruhe," said Carnegie Mellon President Jared L.Cohon. "This is an opportunity for students and staff at each of ourinstitutions to broaden their multinational and multicultural experience,while engaging in state-of-the-art research. We will all benefit from therelationships that are being built and the research that will be freelyshared between the American and European academic and industrialcommunities."

"Collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University is another highlight in ourinternational efforts to enhance the reputation of the University ofKarlsruhe," said University Rector Horst Hippler. "Our new generation ofacademics also needs exchange with the U.S. So we are very proud of notonly sending German students and scientists to America, but also being incharge of them here."

The new center combines the Interactive Systems Laboratories establishedand directed at both universities by Alex Waibel, who holds professorshipsat both institutions. For the last 12 years, Waibel has developed jointresearch programs between the laboratories. He has brought studentstogether from both sides of the ocean and leveraged their expertise toforge research breakthroughs in speech-to-speech translation andmulti-modal communication technologies such as gesture and handwritingrecognition, eye tracking and lip reading.

"This new center provides a model to train, educate and expose students,industry staff and researchers to work, organize, communicate and manageprojects that cross international boundaries," said Waibel. "In addition toenhancing students? educational and research opportunities, InterACT canwork with industrial partners and sponsors in both countries and foster newrelationships."

InterACT is a partner in two large research collaborations being funded bythe European Union and company sponsors at $40 million. The first, calledComputer in the Human Interaction Loop, or CHIL, involves pervasivecomputing. The other is TC-STAR, which focuses on domain-unlimitedspeech-to-speech translation.

InterACT researchers will also be working on the STR-DUST project?SpeechTranslation for Domain Unlimited Spontaneous Communication Tasks?fundedwith a $2.5-million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation.The goal of CHIL is to bring friendlier and more helpful computing servicesto society. Instead of people having to focus on the computer's needs, thecomputer will focus on its user, interacting like a butler hovering in thebackground, observing people to see what they do and anticipating theirwishes.

Waibel says the TC-STAR project offers the opportunity "to really dosomething in speech translation. We?ve done more than a half-dozen projectswhose vocabulary was limited to a particular domain such as travel," hesaid. "Now, we need to do something where we?re not limited by domainanymore that will enable translation of meetings, lectures, television andtelephone conversations."

Waibel says the TC-STAR project offers the opportunity ?to really dosomething in speech translation. We?ve done more than a half-dozen projectswhose vocabulary was limited to a particular domain such as travel,? hesaid. "Now, we need to do something where we?re not limited by domainanymore that will enable translation of meetings, lectures, television andtelephone conversations."

InterACT is receiving funds from Carnegie Mellon, the University ofKarlsruhe and the Ministry of the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg, whereKarlsruhe is located, to develop the center's infrastructure and supportstipends for students. Initial funding for the center and its work is$600,000 over three years with plans to extend it to five. The currentresearch budget for the center is more than $5 million.For more information on the InterACT center see www.is.cs.cmu.edu/interact/.

About the University of Karlsruhe

The University of Karlsruhe, established in 1825, is the oldest technicaluniversity in Germany with programs that emphasize practical experience.Its Computer Science Department, the first of its kind to be established inGermany, was founded in 1972. It has long been ranked number one amongother such departments at universities in the German federal union. Thestudent population at Karlsruhe is 16,000. In addition to computer science,the University of Karlsruhe boasts particular research strengths inengineering, natural and economic sciences, as well as strong programs inthe humanities and social sciences. For more information, seewww.uni-karlsruhe.de.

About Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon is a private research university with a distinctive mix ofprograms in computer science, robotics, engineering, the sciences,business, public policy, fine arts and the humanities. More than 8,000undergraduate and graduate students receive an education characterized byits focus on creating and implementing solutions to solve real problems,interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation. A small faculty-to-studentratio provides an opportunity for close interaction between students andprofessors. While technology is pervasive on its 110-acre campus, CarnegieMellon is also distinctive among leading research universities because ofconservatory-like programs in its College of Fine Arts. For moreinformation, visit www.cmu.edu.

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Byron Spice | 412-268-9068 | bspice [atsymbol] cs.cmu.edu