ECM Faculty Focus
An advanced system that will allow speech recognition in spaces filled with other voices, noise and echoes is being developed by an international team led by Associate Professor Roberto Togneri.
Project leader Associate Professor Roberto Togneri, of Signals and Systems Engineering Research Group, said current speech recognition systems that turned a speaker's words into text on a computer or mobile phone screen depended on the user wearing a head-set microphone or speaking close to the microphone in a relatively quiet environment.
This $230,000 project, funded by an Australia Research Council's Discovery grant, aims to develop a system that frees the user from having to wear a headphone, or be right next to one, to provide on-screen text entry or voice control even in hostile, or noisy, multi-voiced, environments.
"We're interested in developing advanced voice-activated control so that rather than a mouse or key pad, the user's voice can activate controls such as ‘switch on', ‘switch off' and ‘turn the page'", A/Professor Togneri said. "We're also interested in being able to position the microphone further away from the speaker. This will be useful in situations such as surveillance of criminal organisations and in information kiosks."
An important characteristic of automatic speech recognition systems is their use of adaptive modelling which means such systems can be customised to speakers with specific accents or suffer from speech impediments.
"There will be many applications for this system once it is perfected," A/Professor Togneri said. "For example, it could be used in the assistive technology being developed for vehicle drivers. We recently became aware that people in the local WA animal husbandry industry have an interest in this technology: their hands are busy, the environment is noisy, but they need to take an inventory, and what better way than to do this by voice?
This technology will greatly enhance the defence and police ability for security through automated surveillance and can provide new assistive aids to improve the quality of life and safety for the elderly and disabled.
"Our project will also provide an excellent training ground for graduate students and researchers, with the real possibility of significant commercial benefit to the nation." Professor Sven Nordholm of Curtin University of Technology and Professor Martin Cooke of the University of the Basque Country (Spain) are A/Professor Togneri's project partners.