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More Informatics Research in the News

Researchers at the School of Informatics have received considerable media coverage for their work on speech technology and how it can improve public announcements.

Professor Simon King, Director of the University’s Centre for Speech Technology Research, along with other Informatics staff, have been using speech technology to improve public announcements at venues such as railway stations, bus stations and football stadiums.

Through the ‘Listening Talker’ project, researchers from Edinburgh University along with scientists from Greece, Spain and Sweden, studied how speech was perceived by listeners. They pinpointed the components of speech that were most easily heard by people in a noisy place.

Listeners paid most attention to the parts of speech that are easiest to hear, and used those to decipher what was being said.

From this, the researchers developed a computer program to analyse spoken words and enhance these sounds in order to create a device that can be fitted to existing public address (PA) systems.

It sounds like the same person but it jumps out of the background noise. Speech has lots of component sounds, some of which are needed for understanding, so we have enhanced the crucial parts and omitted the redundant. This makes it easier to understand in a noisy environment.

Professor Simon KingDirector of the University’s Centre for Speech Technology Research and Leader of the Project

Noisy environments make it difficult to understand what is said and simply making speech louder isn’t the smartest solution. Our findings could offer an alternative, by making speech more intelligible without turning up the volume.

Dr Cassia Valentini BotinhaoResearch Fellow, Centre for Speech Technology Research

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