Czech figures come to life in AI generated gifs and as language teaching app

You can now add playful images of Kafka, Charles IV, Rudolf II, or Božena Němcová to your messages.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 02.03.2021 14:38 (updated on 02.03.2021)

You can improve your English pronunciation by talking to historical figures, thanks to an app called Yadada, made by a Czech company of the same name. The app uses artificial intelligence to animate artistic and historical figures.

In an effort to create some online buzz for their app, the company has also released hundreds of animated gifs, with many figures from Czech history thrown in the mix. The gifs can be used in online messaging and on social media.

In the app, you have scripted conversations with Mona Lisa, Napoleon, Caesar, Cleopatra, and Czech poet Karel Hynek Mácha. The more mundane people include a traffic cop and a hotel clerk. The app highlights the words you said that were difficult to understand.

The purpose of the app is to let people practice English without being embarrassed in front of someone. Some of the animated figures speak with accents, which helps people get used to different pronunciations.

The gifs, available at Giphy.com, also use historical figures and subjects from art, and have text underneath with common words like “yes,” “no,” “yikes,” and “agreed,” and short phrases such as “you are on mute,” “excuse me,” and “I just … nevermind.”

Many are of internationally recognizable figures including Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, and William Shakespeare, as well as Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and Botticelli’s Venus

Some of the more recent additions, of you scroll to the bottom of the Yadada page on Giphy, are figures from Czech history.

From modern Czech politics, you can find Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Edvard Beneš, and Alois Rašín, while historical royalty includes Emperor Charles IV, Přemysl Otakar I, Emperor Rudolf II, Empress Maria Theresa, and Emperor Franz Josef.

Also from Czech history are St. Anežka Česká, Jan Hus, Jan Amos Komenský, and Jan Sladký Kozina. Business is represented by Tomáš Baťa.

The rest come from the arts: Ema Destinnová, Karel Čapek, Bedřich Smetana, Božena Němcová, Karel Jaromír Erben, Magdalena Dobromila Rettigová, Alois Jirásek, Karel Hynek Mácha, Franz Kafka, and Alfons Mucha.

Text under the gifs is in English, and meant to be a bit playful. A rather glum Kafka bobs his head, with the word “Happy” superimposed underneath. Čapek does little better, with the same word but in rainbow colors. Most of the characters grimace to the word “awkward” and show various forms of displeasure or bafflement.

The gifs and the faces in the app use artificial intelligence technology that can maps facial expressions and transfer them to other images. In addition, the app uses voice synthesizers and language models. The technology is similar to what is used to create deep fake videos, only in this case the intent isn’t to be deceptive.

The gifs can be found by default on Facebook Messenger and some other platforms. The Yadada app is available for Android at Google Play and for IOS at App Store.