UWA aims to get voices heard

A system that will allow speech recognition in noisy environments is being developed by an international team led by The University of Western Australia (UWA).

Project leader and associate professor Roberto Togneri, of UWA’s 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 depend on the user wearing a head-set microphone or speaking close to the microphone in a relatively quiet environment.

This $230,000 (£131,000) project, funded by a grant from the Australian Research Council, aims to develop a system that frees the user from having to wear a headset or from standing 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 keypad, the user’s voice can activate controls such as “switch on”, “switch off” and “turn the page”,’ 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,’ he added.