Google for India event: New India-first search features, integration with Digilocker and more

At its annual Google for India event, the tech giant showcased several new features aimed at making it easier for Indians to access the Internet, with a special focus on the use of artificial intelligence. Google is also bringing improved security features to Google Pay (the country’s popular digital payments app) and integration with the government’s Digilocker service for the Files app. Google’s event saw the presence of CEO Sundar Pichai along with Ashwini Vaishnaw, Minister of Railways, Communications and Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India.

“In my opinion, artificial intelligence will touch all sectors over time. I’m excited to see how we can use AI to serve our mission at Google. We are increasingly using AI to increase the number of languages ​​we can offer. We are now working on a powerful AI model that supports 1000 languages. AI will help us bring a multimodal approach to Google Search,” Pichai said as part of the discussion.

To begin with, Google is partnering with the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru for Project Vaani, “Capturing India’s diverse dialects to build better AI language models.” The project will collect and transcribe open-source speech data from all 773 districts of India. This will be available in the future through the Bhashini project of the Government of India. Google plans to build a “single, unified model capable of handling over 100 Indian languages ​​across speech and text.”

The company also showed off new search features. For one thing, Google’s Multisearch feature — which lets users search using images and text simultaneously — is coming to more Indian languages ​​next year, starting with Hindi. The feature is available in English in India. It is also introducing a first-in-India feature where search results pages will be bilingual for users who prefer this.

Google says it will rely on its “advanced machine learning translation model” and “cross-language search technology” to do so. This functionality has already started rolling out in Hindi and will be rolled out to other Indian languages ​​including Tamil, Telugu, Marathi and Bengali next year.

It also plans to improve speech recognition technology for Hinglish speakers. The new model “can understand Hinglish speakers more effectively,” according to Google, as it “uses a new neural network-inspired speech recognition model that takes into account individual accents, surrounding sounds, context, and speaking style.”

The company is also partnering with the National eGovernance Division (NeGD) to provide people with verified digital documents by integrating Digilocker into the “Files by Google” app on Android. Google says that “Files and documents stored on Google will be in an isolated environment on the device, and can only be accessed using a unique lock screen authentication.” The Files app will identify and organize one’s government documents into a single, secure folder. The algorithm will be able to identify one’s PAN card, Aadhaar card details and files from document stores in the app. Google says the machine learning algorithm runs on the device itself to improve privacy and security.

The company also announced enhanced security features for Google Pay, including multi-layered smart alerts to alert users if the fraud detection system detects suspicious activity.

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