New $4.4M investment propels speech recognition towards hitting the target

Wavemakers, a developer of voice optimisation software, today announced that Technology Partnerships Canada (TPC) will invest $4.4 million in Wavemakers’ targeted speech recognition software research and development project.

The goal of the Wavemakers ‘OnTarget’ initiative is to enable computer applications to identify the speech of one person when his or her speech is surrounded by interfering background noise, including other voices.

The human brain performs this task seamlessly; however, even the most sophisticated voice recognition systems have been thwarted by interfering noise and overlapping voice information. According to Wavemakers, there is no current solution to this common problem.

‘The enabling effects and productivity improvements that voice user interfaces (VUIs) will provide are virtually limitless,’ said Peter van der Gracht, Wavemakers’ chair and CEO. ‘The markets for VUIs are huge, including in-car communications, household appliances, cell-phones, handheld computers and many other consumer electronics. When OnTarget is successfully completed, Canadians will have solved one of the most difficult problems the speech industry has faced.’

The Wavemakers OnTarget team will use their existing ClearStream product as a base for building a solution for noisy environments in which many voice-activated devices could be employed if VUIs worked.

The project consists of five stages. By the fifth stage, the ClearStream OnTarget product will be able to extract target speech out of background voices, music, transient noises and high levels of variable background noise, mimicking the way the brain processes speech information using neural networks.