27.12.2022 - ICT, Technology

Tilde: Globalization drives demand for language technologies

Tilde has won the World Machine Translation competition four times. This competition brings together machine translation developers from all over the world. It is like the industry's annual Olympics, where the latest research-based machine translation technologies are evaluated. To continuously develop further, Tilde is already working on language technology research in the field of quantum computers.

Tilde places strong emphasis on research and development. The company invests more than 22% of its turnover into research aimed at creating new technologies. “In this way, we can satisfy the ever growing needs of our customers and be among the leaders in the industry”, said Kristīne Metuzāle, Tilde’s Senior Key Account Manager.

She believes that continuous investment in research and development has enabled the company both to remain strong today and to offer high-quality solutions tomorrow and beyond as technologies forge ahead. “For example, we are already working on language technology research in quantum computing. We want to understand now what will happen in this area in several years in order to be prepared for the future”, said Metuzāle.

Better work and communication

Tilde develops AI-based language technologies to help overcome various language barriers in communication between governments, businesses and other organizations. “In today’s communication, language technologies play a growing role because they allow us to communicate. For example, people can receive news from only one channel in the language they know. However, with language technologies, they can follow news in other languages that they do not understand. This means they can receive information from different channels and sources and understand what is true and what may be false. In the future, technologies will help us live in a democratic and better integrated world. We, of course, want to see Tilde being an important part of this world”, added Metuzāle.

Technologies developed by the company help to make work more efficient, save time, create more efficient processes and expand export opportunities. “Growing international cooperation and mobility mean that businesses need more effective communication and customer service tools. For example, the demand for virtual assistants and machine translation solutions in international communication is growing all the time. This is why we closely follow our customers’ needs, as well as market and technology trends. We must always offer products that are best suited to the needs of our customers”, she said.

Metuzāle believes that voice technologies make working processes, e.g., conducting meetings and converting speech to text, more efficient for many organizations and state authorities. We all have many meetings, including online, which need to be minuted. Why shouldn’t we automate this process? There are people whose jobs require visiting places to observe things and then report in writing. Using voice solutions, these people can make voice recordings of their observations and when they return to their offices their recordings are already converted to text. For instance, with voice technologies, doctors will be able to create important notes for their patients or colleagues much more quickly and efficiently.

30 years of experience

Today, the company is working on artificial intelligence and mainly develops three areas of technology: machine translation, virtual assistants and voice recognition. “All these technologies are based on artificial intelligence”, said Metuzāle.

Tilde’s history began 30 years ago when the first computers imported to Latvia were not equipped for writing in Latvian. “Back then, to write in Latvian, you had to press a combination of keys to get your diacritic symbols. One of the symbols to be pressed was “~”. This is where Tilde’s name and logo came from”, she explained.

The company began working in the language technology industry to ensure the availability of Latvian symbols on computers and went on to create electronic dictionaries and other solutions. As times and technologies moved forward, we entered the artificial intelligence era. Today, Tilde has more than 150 employees in three offices. Its headquarters is in Riga and it has two other offices in Lithuania and Estonia.

Exports represent 59% of turnover

In 2021, Tilde’s turnover was EUR 6.7 million. “Our turnover continues to grow and the share of exports in sales is significant. Exports make up 59% of our total turnover”, said Metuzāle. The company’s rate of expansion to foreign markets is growing and it continues to work there with more focus and higher efficiency.

Tilde mainly works in Europe. “Europe has many language challenges as it has 24 official languages into which everything should be translated. However, there are 80 languages widely spoken in Europe. Many government authorities know that there are large groups of people who do not speak a local language or even another official EU language (e.g., refugees). These authorities need tools to communicate with such groups, for example, on social, healthcare or education matters”, said Metuzāle.

The company has developed more than 90 language combinations in machine translation. At the customers’ request, machine translation solutions have also been developed for more exotic languages, such as Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, Mexican Spanish and other languages. The company has also adapted machine translation to specific customer industries, including medicine, law and other sectors. “European companies have business partners all over the world and they need tools to overcome language barriers and boost the efficiency of their internal and external communication”, she explained.

Exports built on a powerful product

Metuzāle said that Tilde’s export experience began with a powerful product, which was first offered in the Baltic states, where languages have a complicated structure. This experience enabled the company to expand to other foreign markets. She believes that the key to the company’s export success is its solutions with unique added value, which are different from all other solutions in the industry.

“Our solutions work well to satisfy our customers’ needs. It gives us a strong position in the market. Language technology solutions are not immediately clear to everyone and their use in daily life is not self-evident, so we need to invest a lot of effort in education. It allows us to open many doors”, said Metuzāle.

To open new export doors, Tilde goes to trade missions, participates in various events and cooperates with representative offices of the Latvian Investment and Development Agency (LIAA) abroad. “Currently, we are working with the LIAA office in Norway and we already have a number of potential partners”, said Metuzāle, adding that they were happy to see that Tilde’s reputation preceded them and businesses were approaching Tilde because they knew they needed the solutions that would bring them the largest added value.

Source: Press release (www.liaa.gov.lv). Publicity photo.

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