Icelandic speakers will soon have their own virtual assistant in their language – Embla. The app is the first of its kind to understand and speak the Icelandic language. Embla is answering a widespread call for integrating the Icelandic language into technology. RÚV reported first.
Embla speaks Icelandic and she knows quite a bit. She can tell users the opening hours of shops, when the next bus is coming, and can even tell jokes. Like her “colleagues” Siri and Alexa, Embla doesn’t have the answer to every single question, but she can search through Wikipedia.
“There’s a demand for it, people talk a lot more to their devices,” stated Katla Ásgeirsdóttir, one of the app’s designers at startup Miðeind. “Children do this a lot, talk to computers and phones. And people speak English or other languages because Icelandic hasn’t been available. To have such technology on the consumer market is important for us and it’s not a moment too soon.”
The virtual assistant app has been in development for over a year and a half and is supported by a government initiative to integrate the Icelandic language into digital technology. It will become available to Android and Apple users in the coming days.