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In conversation with... APA

Verena Krawarik - APA


"The dialect recognition would be a real game changer"


As part of the STADIEM* program, the Austria Presse Agentur (APA) and the Hamburg-based startup aiconix are cooperating to jointly develop a speech-to-text solution with automated recognition of Austrian dialects.
In an interview with Verena Krawarik, head of the APA-medialab at the Austria Presse Agentur, we would like to find out why this project is so interesting for APA:


What forms of accessibility do you think are urgently needed in the media world?

"If accessibility is really thought of holistically, then media companies have to turn a few adjusting screws - as mediators of news and information just as much as as companies themselves. The easiest way to succeed in the media context is to ask ourselves the question: Who do we want to reach with our content - and from this, many issues arise as if by magic. Subtitling, news in "simple language," image description, etc. More challenging are the topics such as editing, for example in graphics, or also in the area of distribution, e.g., having the content read aloud."


What is APA already doing today for the digital inclusion of people?

"A few years ago, together with the company capito, we very successfully built up the news track "TopEasy" in the editorial area, where we prepare news for different language levels. These are used by ORF-Teletext as well as by regional newspaper publishers. AI is an issue here insofar as we make our data available for AI training. For example, capito has developed a service to help companies simplify their texts. We have integrated this service at the APA subsidiary OTS on our PR Desk platform. Customers can thus contribute to inclusion by making their texts easier to understand for as many target groups as possible. Inclusion is also a priority in our Mobile Publishing Suite (MPS), an e-paper solution for publishers. Here, it has long been possible to have texts read aloud and change font sizes."


How did the collaboration with aiconix come about?

"I have known Eugen Gross, CEO of aiconix, since the time in the Next Media Accelerator (NMA), in which we are an investor. Even then, we looked at aiconix' services because we have many use cases within APA in the speech-to-text area. This starts in the editorial department, which certainly has the highest demand on the services, and ends with media monitoring for numerous companies and public authorities. The fact that Eugen has roots in Vienna definitely helped to stay in touch even after the NMA batch."


What exactly does the collaboration involve and what do you expect from the output?

"Currently, we are focusing on providing curated content to improve dialect recognition. Here, there is no really good solution on the market yet. However, we have already done an experiment in logo recognition and helped aiconix train visual AI models by providing imagery."


What solution enhancements / features would you like to see from aiconix in the future?

"Dialect recognition would be a real game changer."



* The STADIEM (Startup Driven Innovation in European Media) project is funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No. 951981.


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