Magazine article Science News

A Camera Captures Voices from Afar: Method Uses Throat Movements to Reconstruct Speech

Magazine article Science News

A Camera Captures Voices from Afar: Method Uses Throat Movements to Reconstruct Speech

Article excerpt

MONTREAL -- Eavesdroppers might not have to lip-read to listen in on a far-off conversation. Using a high-speed camera pointed at the throat, scientists can decipher a person's words without relying on a microphone.

Snapping thousands of images per second, researchers recorded every wavering wobble of neck flesh that accompanied sounds floating out from a person's voice box. A computer program then turned the video-recorded skin vibrations into sound waves, Yasuhiro Oikawa of Waseda University in Tokyo reported June 3.

Standard lip-reading software tracks lip twitches, tongue waggles and jaw motions as a person's mouth forms a word. Some programs are sophisticated enough to recognize different languages, but the computer doesn't offer much more than a transcript, Oikawa said.

Textual information is important, but so is intonation, pitch and volume, he said. "We get a sense of a speaker's feeling from their voice."

Microphones have problems, too: A mic often records too much background noise--especially outside, where the whoosh of wind or the plop of a raindrop can drown out a person's voice.

So Oikawa and colleagues looked for a new way to record speech that could capture vocal tones.

Using a high-speed camera, the researchers zoomed in on the throats of two volunteers and recorded them saying the Japanese word tawara, which means straw bale or bag. The team's camera recorded at 10,000 frames per second; the typical rate for a movie projected in a theater is 24.

At the same time, Oikawa's team recorded the volunteers' words with a standard microphone and a vibrometer that measured movements of their skin. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.