European Project Seeks to Advance Speech in Smart Homes

To develop smart home functionality, speech technology and signal processing experts from Germany, Greece, and Italy have begun to collaborate in a European Union project called "LISTEN," which seeks to develop a hands-free voice-enabled interface to web applications for smart home environments. They are designing a system enabling robust hands-free large-vocabulary voice-based access to Internet applications in smart homes using microphone array networks.

In the mid-term project review meeting in Heraklion, Greece, the project partners demonstrated the system in four languages (English, German, Greek, and Italian). Functions of the project include multilingual speech recognition and the use of a microphone array, which is a matchbox-size unit with eight microphones.

"This was an impressive demonstration," said EU project officer Alina Suhetzki, who called the advancements so far "a small and smart system that works in real time with four languages and can also be adapted to further languages."

The partners are Greece's Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (FORTH), experts in acoustic sensor networks and microphone array signal processing; Germany's European Media Laboratory (EML), a provider of speech recognition technology, and RWTH Aachen University, which has done extensive research around speech recognition; and Italy's Cedat 85, experts in building applications and systems that incorporate speech recognition technologies.

The "LISTEN" partners are seeking to bridge the gap between the acoustic sensors and the automatic speech recognition research communities.

"LISTEN" is part of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) program in the HORIZON 2020 framework. The four-year project started June 1, 2015.

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