ERDF grant for language technology that helps children and elderly

Date of news: 9 September 2020

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) has awarded a large grant to a language technology project with two components: one that helps children with a language deficiency and another that helps identify cognitive decline in the elderly. The Centre for Language and Speech Technology (CLST) plays a big role in this project.

The EDRF granted nearly EUR 740,000 to the ST CART project, a collaboration between Radboud University’s Centre for Language and Speech Technology (CLST) and the companies Virtual Assistant BV (Virtask) and 8D Games.

The EDRF-project, subsidised by OP-OOST (the EU, the Province of Gelderland, the Province of Overijssel and the National Government) allows the partners in ST CART to contribute significantly to the innovative climate of the eastern region of the Netherlands, especially in the field of language and speech technology.

Digi Juf and Anne4Care

In the 1.7 million euro project, the CLST is developing high end speech technology in support of two innovative products: the Digi Juf (‘Digi Teacher’) created by 8D Games that allows children with a language deficiency to learn how to read in a fun way and Anne4Care, the virtual care-assistant for the elderly created by Virtask, that uses the new speech technology to diagnose cognitive decline, in order to alert caretakers to changing care needs in an early stage.

‘This project combines innovative scientific research with sustainable solutions for current challenges in society in the field of education and health care’, says language scientist Helmer Strik, who is involved on behalf of Radboud University.

Smart and subtle speech technology

Speech technology, such as the kind developed by CLST, makes it possible to not only recognise words in a user’s speech, but more subtle deviations in speech that can indicate problems in reading out loud or speech production as well. Speech technology can thus be used to support children in learning how to read, or to identify speech deviations in elderly people that can serve as so called ‘markers’ of cognitive decline. Speech technology, with realtime word recognition from speech, data science and deep learning thus forms the basis for the development of the Digi Juf and the Care Assistant.

More about Digi Juf

Digi Juf is a product that allows children to practise their reading skills intensively and autonomously. It provides direct and accurate feedback and support while reading. The Digi Juf learns and adjusts to every specific user. Children’s motivation to use Digi Juf is boosted through gamification.

8d-games-logo Site:

More about Anne4Care

Anne4Care is the virtual care assistant for the elderly developed in cooperation with Virtask. The new speech technology can diagnose cognitive decline in the elderly in order to alert caretakers to changing care needs in an early stage.

Anne4Care is an expansion of the functions of the existing virtual care assistant ANNE and offers support in the daily lives of those who suffer from dementia. Based on specific speech markers Anne4Care can identify early symptoms of decline and provide directed assistance that can improve safety, social support and well-being (reminders, questions and tasks, entertainment).

anne_4_care-logo Site:

eu_logoThe operational programme ERDF East Netherlands (OP Oost, ‘oost’ being the Dutch word for ‘east’) is a joint subsidy programme of the EU, central government and the provinces of Overijssel and Gelderland. It works on making long-term improvements to the economies of both provinces. The aim is to improve innovation processes at SMEs in the eastern Netherlands and to further develop their business cases.

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