"Images are universal, but image search is not," said Oren Etzioni, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington. "A person who types his or her search in English won't find images tagged in Chinese, and a Dutch person won't find images tagged in English. We've created a collaborative tool that solves this problem."
A new multilingual search tool developed at the UW's Turing Center makes the universal appeal of pictures available to all. PanImages, presented today at the Machine Translation Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, allows people to search for images on the Web using hundreds of languages.
Search engines such as Google look for images by detecting the search term in captions and other nearby text. But since the process looks for a string of letters, the results are limited to the seeker's mother tongue.
The new tool is named PanImages, from the Greek prefix, "pan," meaning whole or all-inclusive. It automatically translates the search term into about 300 other languages, suggests a few that might work and then displays images from Google and the online photo database Flickr.
PanImages promises to help people who speak languages that have a small Web presence. Imagine you are a Zulu speaker looking for a picture of a refrigerator, Etzioni said. You type the Zulu word for refrigerator ("ifriji") into an image search and get two results. The same search using PanImages generates 472,000 hits. In a test of so-called minor languages, PanImages was able to find 57 times more results, on average, than a Google image search.
"We want to serve the vast number of people who don't speak one of the major languages," Etzioni said. "As the Internet becomes more widely available outside of the major industrialized nations, it becomes increasingly important to serve people who don't speak English, French or Chinese."
Even people who speak these more common languages can benefit by switching electronic tongues. Words that have more than one meaning inevitably produce unwanted results. For instance, typing the word "spring" in an English-language image search generates diverse images: grassy meadows, metal coils and pictures from the town of Silver Spring, Md. If you want images of a metal spring, you might use PanImages and search for the more precise French word "ressort." If you want a picture of a rectangular bar and don't want businesses where patrons drink alcohol, you might try the Russian word "áðóñîê." Experiments showed that, for common languages, PanImages nearly doubles the number of correct images on the first 15 pages of results.
PanImages' powerful brains were created by scanning more than 350 machine-readable online dictionaries. Some of these were "wiktionaries," online multilingual dictionaries written by volunteers. The PanImages software scans these dictionaries and uses an algorithm to check the accuracy of the results. It then assembles the results in a matrix that allows translation in combinations that may never have been attempted -- for instance, from Gujarati to Lithuanian.
"It's an unprecedented lexical resource. The most distinguishing element is its ability to scale to such a broad set of languages," Etzioni said. "Our goal is to ultimately cover all the languages people are interested in."
Free online translation services used by Yahoo! and Google incorporate just one or two dozen common languages. In the United States, research on machine translation tends to focus on languages with military importance, such as Arabic and Chinese, Etzioni said. PanImages had 50 languages earlier this year and by June it incorporated 100 languages. It now includes some 300 languages, 2.5 million words and millions of individual translations.
PanImages also lets people instantly add new words or translations.
Future work on PanImages will scour more online dictionaries to expand the number of words and languages it can handle. Researchers also hope to translate the words used in tagging sites, such as del.icio.us, where visitors use single-word labels to describe the page's content.
"Our goal is to promote pan-lingual translation," said Etzioni. "With this first step, we've created a service we hope will be a handy tool."
Hannah Hickey | EurekAlert!
Product placement: Only brands placed very prominently benefit from 3D technology
07.07.2016 | Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt
NASA Goddard network maintains communications from space to ground
02.03.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy