This story is from the category Sounding the Future
Date posted: 22/08/2012
New technology that allows computers to recognise any language without pre-learning stands to revolutionise automatic speech recognition.
If computers are rendered capable of recognising speech it will one day be the norm to give commands by voice rather than via a keyboard. "Speaking" with a mobile phone is already commonplace for many people. The technology can also be used for searching through an audio archive for files or films on the Internet.
But achieving good speech recognition is a difficult task. Spoken language differs widely from written language and there is wide variation in spoken language between individuals, such as differences in dialects.
With funding from the Large-scale Programme on Core Competence and Value Creation in ICT (VERDIKT) under the Research Council of Norway, Professor Torbjørn Svendsen of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and fellow research colleagues have been testing an innovative approach to creating next-generation speech recognition technology.
The Norwegian researchers have demonstrated that the production of human speech is fundamentally the same across languages. As such, the technology being developed will be applicable to any language without being reliant on speech data for each individual language to train a machine.
The researchers based their approach on phonetics -- that is, the study of the sounds of human speech. They have also incorporated additional speech and language knowledge into the system, for example the correspondence between sound frequency and words and how words are put together in forming sentences.
The method developed by Dr Svendsen and colleagues involves training a computer to determine which parts of the speech organs are in activity based on analysis of the pressure of sound waves captured by the microphone.
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