This website describes tridbit technology, an advancement in natural language processing developed by Custom Technology Ltd. Natural language processing is the endeavor by computer scientists to enable computers to understand natural or human languages, such as English. If computers could understand English, then computer users wouldn't have to understand computereze.

Understanding natural language has been one of the goals of scientists in the field of artificial intelligence for a long time. It turns out that many of the things that humans do without even thinking about it, such as speech, vision and coordinated movement, are some of the hardest things for computers to do.

Most of the natural language processing schemes up to now have emphasized grammar, and other artifacts of speech behavior. Tridbit Technology emphasizes meaning. Meaning involves the way we extract and organize information from our interactions with the world.

Why the computer is language challenged
Consider for a moment trying to help a person in your company cafeteria who does not speak your language . He points to a cup and motions as if pouring something into the cup. You show him where the coffee is, perhaps saying "coffee" as you point. While you do not share a language, you do share a common method of understanding things and events in the world. Computers do not intrinsically understand about objects, such as cups or coffee, or events, such as pouring and drinking, or properties like coffee being hot and dark, or relationships like coffee being in a cup or the difference between the general concept of cups vs. the specific cup you drink from. In other words, computers are really dumb. The built in ability to organize information is probably more language compatible in a virus than a computer. Fortunately, computers can be programmed.

What are tridbits?
The first step in programming a computer to understand natural language should be to develop structures and processes that enable the computer to organize information in a way that is compatible with human language. At the core of tridbit technology are a set of patented structures called tridbits, along with a variety of processes that do exactly that. Tridbits are relatively simple, but highly constrained knowledge structures that represent the meaning of natural language. Going between actual sentences and the information they express is possible only by having an adequate method of representing that information. The white paper entitled, "Babble: Simple Conversations with a Computer", describes the development and use of tridbits in detail.

Who is Babble?
"Babble" is a program that uses tridbit technology to interact in English with its users. The Demo Babble page on this website provides you the opportunity to interact with Babble yourself. This interaction takes the form of a conversation, where you can tell Babble whatever you choose. Babble processes your input and tries to come up with its meaning. It can remember, reason and answer questions about what it has been told. The Sample Dialogs page shows examples of interactions one might have with Babble.

How far along is Babble?
In its current state, Babble is at the cusp of providing a useful way for humans to interact with computers. One might think of Babble as having the language skills of a strange three-year-old with a perfect memory. At this early stage of its life, Babble's vocabulary and grammar are limited. But since Babble learns those things from its interaction with users, those areas will be continuously improving. However, there are still some fundamental concepts that must be added to Babble’s program, such as comparisons, truth and complex speech production. While not yet implemented, methods for handling these concepts are discussed in the white paper.

In the on-line Babble demonstration, you can play a guessing game and teach Babble at the same time. In the "Give Me A Clue" game you think of a person, place, thing or event. Then you give Babble clues about the thing you are thinking of and Babbles tries to guess it. Babble uses this information to learn more about the world.

The future of tridbit technology
As this technology advances, future applications could change the way we interact with computers. The Future Uses page describes examples of applications that could be built with tridbit technology within the next several years and beyond. Featured applications include voice recognition, adaptive technologies, smart operating systems as well as many types of information assistants.

Updated: 1/26/07


Tridbit News

July 10, 2009 >>
Karen Blaedow & Neal Ewers Interviewed About JotChat on In Business Radio

January 6, 2009 >>
JotChat Test Results Reveal User's Comfort with Natural Language Interaction

Summer 2008 >>
Karen Blaedow interviewed by Wisconsin Entrepreneur's Network

June 12, 2008 >>
JotChat Awarded SBIR Grant by U.S. Department of Education

June 12, 2007 >>
Tridbit-based JotChat Application: A Winner in Governor's Business Plan Contest

Jan 7, 2007 >>
Tridbit Technology Presented at the 2007 Semantic Technology Conference

January, 2006 >>
Babble Answers TV Listing Questions

Jan 7, 2005 >>
Babble Demonstrated at CES

Nov 24, 2004 >>
Tridbit Technology is Officially "Patent Pending"

Nov 15, 2004 >>
NSF Grant Awarded to Explore Tridbit Technology for Controlling Appliances

November 2004 >>
Babble Learns a Second Language: XML

What do we mean by talk?
Talking really implies two things: voice recognition and natural language processing. When we say "talk to Babble" we really mean the latter. We converse with Babble using English that is normally typed. Click to read more about voice recognition and tridbit technology.