Fifty-year-old Aashamma, a tenant farmer from a remote Telangana village, sent a voice message in Telugu from her phone, saying ‘motor aapu’ (stop the motor), and an AI solution that ran behind the mobile app remotely stopped the motor.

Aashamma, her mother-in-law Bhemamma, and brother-in-law Basvaraj were both sad and happy to see the voice command work. They were sad because an app like this would have saved the life of Aashamma’s husband, who was electrocuted as he tried to switch on a water motor in his field. They were happy because farmers like them now have a solution that can remotely operate the motors from a safe distance.

The Sweccha Gonthu (Free Voice) app, completely built on open-source software, will hit the fields of farmers in the next few weeks. It has been developed by Sweccha, which champions free-to-use software applications built on open-source technologies, with contributions from volunteer techies.

“We have roped in over 40,000 volunteers to build a formidable dataset of voice samples from people across Telangana. These samples were used to train an AI model on all possible dialects and modulation of people from across the State,” Kiran Chandra, the Founder of Sweccha, told businessline.

Ensuring safety

He said the application would keep the farmers away from potential dangers such as electric shocks as they can operate gadgets from a safe distance. 

The organisation recently released a Small Language Model (a small ChatGPT like solution) which can churn out Chandamama-like short stories when given a set of prompts.

The volunteers were asked to provide voice samples of at least five of their family members and friends and upload them onto a server. “You don’t need to spend a lot of money to build such large datasets. Communities can quickly build such datasets,” Chaitanya, another Sweccha leader, said.

It gathered a huge dataset comprising over 15 lakh voice samples, which were used to make the AI application understand the queries better.

The organisation is planning to replicate the model in all the regional languages in the country. “We have proven that we can solve a basic societal problem using the power of community and open source. We can replicate this in other regional languages also,” he said.

The application was demonstrated at the two-day AI Days 2024 conference, which concluded here on Sunday.