Already, Xitsonga Dictionary is making waves in the app development world. It's been downloaded over 100 000 times on Google Play and has been lauded as a fun and intuitive language learning experience. If you've ever been interested in learning the Xitsonga language, this innovative new app will make the process so much easier. And, with the success of Xitsonga Dictionary, there's nothing stopping its creators from turning their attention to other languages. Could this award-winning app be the future for image-language learning? Here's everything you need to know about this exciting and proudly South African product...
Explaining the new Xitsonga Dictionary app
What is Xitsonga Dictionary?
Launched just a few weeks ago, Xitsonga Dictionary is a dynamic language learning app that makes use of various ways to translate Xitsonga to English. There's an instant translator option if you need to simply translate a word or phrase. And, if you're organising words into subjects like animals, food, travel etc, the app offers loads of categories for you to choose from. There's also a section on proverbs and idioms if you want to learn more academic terms.
But, the most exciting aspect is the Xitsonga Vision feature. Here, if you see something you want to know the translation of, the app has been developed to allow you to simply take a picture and Xitsonga Vision will recognise the object and provide the appropriate translation for it. The new Xitsonga Dictionary app is part of the bigger translation platform called Xitsonga.org.
Who created it?
Local software developer Mukondleteri Dumela is the man behind this creation. He's worked at companies like Vodacom and BBD and founded Xitsonga.org in 2012 with the vision to digitise the Xitsonga language and make it more accessible. Dumela grew up in Limpopo and was always aware of the language-based communication barriers in South Africa. We have 11 official languages, after all. Then, while studying information science and multimedia in Pretoria, he explored the idea of combining his interest in languages with his knowledge of and passion for technology. What started as a varsity research project about digitising Dumela's native language, grew into the innovative Xitsonga.org platform as well as the Xitsonga Dictionary app.
Why is it so unusual?
While software giant Google has pioneered image-recognition technology and applied it in their Lens and Goggles products, South Africa is somewhat less familiar with the idea. But, Xitsonga users suggested there be an image-recognition feature on the app to help when they couldn't think of the English word they wanted to translate. This groundbreaking use of technology is what makes the app stand out, and what gives the translation platform more depth. 'The feature uses image recognition technology coupled with our custom translation algorithm,' explains Dumela.
Earlier this month, the app was voted Best Educational Solution at MTN’s Business App of the Year awards. And the app's creator was delighted that his team's hard work was being recognised and celebrated. He said the award helped boost their confidence and drive them to continue their work. In the future, Dumela hopes to scale his project to include more African languages. And, he says, digital tools might be the perfect way to achieve that. We can't wait to see what Xitsonga Dictionary brings out next.