INESC-ID is an R&D institute dedicated to advanced research and development in the fields of Information Technologies, Electronics, Communications, and Energy. It is a non-profit institution, privately owned by IST and INESC, officially declared of public interest. It was created in 2000, as a result of a reorganization of INESC, an institution which also played a pioneering role at the national level both in research and in the creation of SMEs. In 2004, INESC-ID was recognized by the Portuguese Government as an Associated Laboratory.
INESC-ID operated in the following scientific areas: AI for People & Society, Automated Reasoning & Software Reliability, Communication Networks, Distributed, Parallel & Secure Systems, Green Energy & Smart Converters, Graphics & Interaction, Human Language Technologies, High Performance Computing, Architectures & Systems, Information & Decision Support Systems, Nano-Electronic Circuits & Systems, and Sustainable Power Systems.
The Human Language Technology Laboratory is the natural evolution of the Spoken Language Systems Laboratory (L²F), a lab created in 2001, to bring together several research groups of INESC and independent researchers that could potentially add relevant contributions to the area of computational processing of spoken language for European Portuguese. The long term goal of L²F was to bridge the gap between natural spoken language and the underlying semantic information.
The lab includes 30 researchers, most of them either Professors or graduate students at IST, and 3 invited researchers from other universities in Portugal. Their background ranges from Electrical Engineering to Computer Science and Linguistics (the latter through the cooperation with the Center of Linguistics of the University of Lisbon – CLUL). This strongly interdisciplinary group is actively involved in many areas of spoken language research and development, including speech recognition, speech synthesis, speech coding, speech understanding, audio indexation, multimodal dialogue systems, language and dialect identification, and speech-to-speech machine translation, among others. By bringing together researchers from the area of natural language processing, the lab acquired expertise in areas such as natural language database interfaces, natural language generation, alternative syntactic and semantic processing paradigms, summarization, named entity retrieval, question answering, etc., which are also extremely relevant to the development of spoken language systems.
The expertise in these core technologies is integrated into 3 main research strands: semantic processing of multimedia contents, spoken/multimodal dialogue systems and speech-to-speech translation. The original focus on European Portuguese has now been broadened to encompass all varieties of Portuguese. Two application areas also deserve our special attention: e-learning and e-inclusion, namely in the development of alternative and augmentative communication tools for people with special needs.
Some important landmarks in L²F's activity were the development of the first Text-to-Speech synthesizer build from scratch for European Portuguese (DIXI) in 1991, and of the first version of our Large Vocabulary Continuous Speech Recognition system (AUDIMUS) for our language in 1997.
L²F is an institutional member of ISCA (International Speech Communication Association). Its work has been internationally recognized through close cooperation with other research centers in Europe and in the United States, as well as through the recent organization of the conference INTERSPEECH'2005.
L²F has actively cooperated with the national industry: Vodafone, Portugal Telecom, Microsoft Portugal, Rádio-Televisão Portuguesa (RTP), Porto Editora, Texto Editora.