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I work for a publishing company that is looking to create an online virtual environment for English Language Learners.

We are keen to create something immersive (virtual 3D world) through which the learners can experience 'real' interactions. Part of this is that we really want them to be able to speak in the environment (and for the game NPCs to be able to respond/register the learner's utterances). Is there tech out there that could help us achieve this? Is there currently anything like this out there?

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closed as not constructive by Sean Middleditch, Byte56, bummzack, Trevor Powell, Ali.S Mar 15 '13 at 23:30

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I have a commercial technology to fill speech part specifically targetted on accented speech of language learners. Contact me if you are interested. –  Nikolay Shmyrev Mar 13 '13 at 15:51

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This is really cutting edge stuff you are requesting here. I did a lot of research into the state of AI when writing my master thesis, and found that voice recognition is a long way off yet. That is not to say it isn't possible to do some basic stuff. You can test it out for yourself with windows speech recognition. The speech recognition API for the Kinect (which is really the same) is available for use by developers, and might be worth looking into. http://www.renauddumont.be/en/2012/kinect-sdk-1-0-5-reconnaissance-vocale

This api is probably not going to allow you to have natural conversations however.. If this is what you are looking for, you are in for an even larger challenge. Google is doing a lot of work in the field: http://research.google.com/pubs/NaturalLanguageProcessing.html

There is a lot of research going on in this field, and there are also open source solutions you might want to look into. Keep in mind however, that the main challenge here is mapping recognized language to in-game results. You need a database of viable responses, voice-acting for all these responses, etc.

To summarize: this is a large to massive challenge, depending on your goals. It is cutting edge AI research, which would require a highly technical team to work with the project. It is possible to make something like this, but expensive and/or difficult.

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Thanks so much for your response. It's given me loads to think about. I'll be sure to check out the links and see where that takes us. –  Tim Gifford Apr 28 '13 at 18:10

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