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Detecting Speech Without Microphones

CmdrTaco posted more than 9 years ago | from the this-kind-of-wierds-me-out dept.

Communications 221

kyle90 writes "New Scientist is reporting on a new way of detecting speech without using microphones, using electrodes places on the neck that measure muscle activity and nerve impulses. Apparently the user doesn't even need to speak the words out loud in order for them to be detected. This looks like pretty neat technology; if used with cell phones it could give the user a little more privacy, and the rest of us a little more peace and quiet."

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still annoying (2, Funny)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193264)

then we'd have to look at idiots moving their mouth in exaggerated motions....

Huh? (3, Interesting)

Javanista (834415) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193266)

How do you get the same nerve impulses in your neck if your vocal cords are not vibrating?

Re:Huh? (4, Interesting)

CSMastermind (847625) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193301)

The process of speech is one that involves several steps, you must inhale, make your vocal cords viberate, exhale through the viberating vocal cords, and then use your mouth and tounge to shape the air as it's going out to produce a certain sound. Any one of these steps can be done by itself but it won't produce speech. It's the same way you can "mouth" words to a freind who's sitting on the opposite side of a quite room, you are saying the words...just very quitely so that nobody can hear them.

Re:Huh? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193408)

That may be the process for Americans. With most people, however, using their brain to think about what to say is the first step in speech production.

Re:Huh? (5, Informative)

InternationalCow (681980) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193302)

It works by virtue of the fact that your motor cortex plans ahead. So, even while you have not yet consciously taken the decision to speak yet, your motor cortex has already set up the appropriate commands and sent them out to the nerves involved. This translates to an increased firing rate in these nerves, which is not enough to move the muscles but will be sufficient to register on sufficiently sensitive equipment. In fact (other discussion entirely, but fascinating nonetheless) most of our "voluntary" decisions appear to be made before we become aware of them. So much for free will :)

Re:Huh? (3, Insightful)

Javanista (834415) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193355)

Yeah, but nerves send data in both directions. You get feedback from the vocal cords when they're working (as well as all the other tissue around them). It just seems like 'mouthing' words would exclude a lot of data from those neural pathways vs. actually saying them...

Re:Huh? (2, Interesting)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193881)

True, but irrelevant. The latency from the periphery to the cortex is typically on the order of 100ms, which is a far longer interval than most speech gestures actually take to complete. Speech is basically half-duplex.

Re:Huh? (3, Interesting)

Transcendent (204992) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193564)

So, even while you have not yet consciously taken the decision to speak yet, your motor cortex has already set up the appropriate commands and sent them out to the nerves involved. ... In fact (other discussion entirely, but fascinating nonetheless) most of our "voluntary" decisions appear to be made before we become aware of them. So much for free will :)

That argument against free will is flawed. I've heard it many times, and it's always because of an assumption made on the events leading up to an action. It assumes that you make the decision to speak after your brain starts to setup speech for you... which is rediculous. We're not aware of them because we're not that in tune with our brain/body... which is how we function efficiently; we don't have to sweat the small stuff (Like keeping our heart beating? Perfectly controlling exactly which muscles to fire in walking?).

There are many events before you actually speak that involve your decision to speak, such as thinking of (obviously) what to say, how to phrase it, tone of voice... even taking in breath before actually speaking. Even thinking "hmm... should I say this to so and so person" is a decision that would induce a response along the lines of speaking.

Basically, you've already made the decision (consciously on some level at least) to speak before you do it, but it is possible to stop yourself right before you actually speak.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193304)

If you move your mouth, then you will get a lot of nerve impulses to the various muscles.

Re:Huh? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193349)

Tension of the throat muscles that tighten the vocal cords. But the motions of the mouth, lips, and especially of the tongue, are a nightmare to measure. And the sampling of the myo-electric signals typically used takes at least a half-a-second of data to then filter out valid muscular signals versus the large amount of electrical noise on the skin.

Don't expect this to ever beat the speed and usability of a normal throat mike. It's only usefulness is where a half-second or so delay is acceptable, and the silence is critical.

Dear Mr. Anderson, (2, Funny)

ImaLamer (260199) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193463)

What good are electrodes when you can't vibrate your vocal cords?

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193478)

Maybe you haven't thought enough. When you have a train of thought, many of the messages are sent as if you were speaking. Notice you can't have a train of thought faster than you are personally able to speak, excluding any speaking problems (although you can think faster using other means). Also when in heavy thought, many more muscle movements will get away. You mind eventually find yourself whispering without ever explicitly intending to do so.

Quick (4, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193269)

However, both systems come at a cost. Because the words are produced by a computer, the receiver of the call would hear the speaker talking with an artificial voice. But for some that may be a price worth paying for a little peace and quiet.

Get one of these for Ashlee Simpson, pronto!

Re:Quick (3, Funny)

oedneil (871555) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193467)

I think Ashlee's voice is already computer-edited and synthesized enough that it could be considered an artificial voice.

Re:Quick (1, Offtopic)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 9 years ago | (#12194178)

Oy vay... Ashlee Simpson makes me sad.

Her and Jessica's father, Joe Simpson, was the youth minister at my church for 8 years. I grew up going to children's sunday school with Ashlee. And now look what has happened. I'm ashamed.

Deja-vu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193270)

Ears, someone ?

Hmmm (0, Redundant)

gazurtoids (678435) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193272)

Cool.

Re:Hmmm (1)

RicktheBrick (588466) | more than 9 years ago | (#12194040)

My dream computer would have a microphone/speaker in every room on my house. The computer would be able to detect any problems with the house by the noise that was generated by the problem. This tecnology would be great for the computer to recognize our speech. It would also be great to say a password at your front door or in your car and have them both respond without the use of a key or fear that the password would be heard by anyone else. It would also greatly reduce the need for bandwidth as only the words would need to be transmitted. I would think that we could get a cell phone plan with totally unlimited anytime minutes for around $20 a month.

Anybody ever read Ender's Game? (5, Interesting)

Nate4D (813246) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193275)

This sounds almost exactly like the subvocalization technology that Ender uses to communicate with Jane in the later books.

As those who've read it will remember, silent communication while around others can lead to a whole new set of problems all it's own... Especially when it's apparent that you're communicating, but not what you're saying.

Re:Anybody ever read Ender's Game? (1)

Rylz (868268) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193311)

That's exactly what I was thinking! But wasn't Ender's communication with Jane done through a jewel in his ear? I never really understood how the jewel in his ear could provide two way communication...

Re:Anybody ever read Ender's Game? (1)

eis271828 (842849) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193710)

It monitored the impuleses to / movement of his jaw muscle, I think. It required more movement than this technology, as I understand it. Ender still made soft sounds, or clicks, or something. It was at least very obvious to his wife, who got jealous of Jane.

Re:Anybody ever read Ender's Game? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193369)

Subvocalization's been around a long time in scifi. I remember it being used in the Stainless Steel Rat books, and those started in the 60's.

Subvocalization (1)

DevilsEngine (581977) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193424)

Isn't limited to Ender's Game. As an interface, it's a sci fi staple that goes back at least to the John Campbell days at Amazing Stories.
nbsp;

And the real world observance of the phenomenon is quite a bit older. Many people subvocalize while reading -- subconsciously forming each word in their throats, even if the sound never makes it from their mouths.

Re:Anybody ever read Ender's Game? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193434)

The first time I heard of the idea was in a Dan Simmons book, Hyperion series. I think it was the third or fourth book. If I remember correctly two people had to touch and then the vibrations were communicated through the skeleton for complete privacy. This being very far in the future it was considered the only private way of communicating. But the Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow series are very good books... kinda laming out near the end I must say. Did you guys know that Scott Card is a dedicated mormon? Ever since I've learned that the books are just not the same.

Ender's Game = doubleplusgoodgoog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193459)

if you haven't read it, fire it up

Re:Anybody ever read My Teacher is an Alien? (1)

darkera (805654) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193883)

This was also used in Bruce Coville's "My Teacher is an Alien" series.

heh (4, Funny)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193277)

.

I just said something, guess what it was?

Re:heh (1)

0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193310)

First post?

Re:heh (1)

gunix (547717) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193415)

I can't wait until we can hear the things people thinks!

I know what he said! He said.. (1)

Xeo 024 (755161) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193438)

Re:heh (1)

Mattintosh (758112) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193753)

My guess? You said "heh".

Hearing a computer talk at you... (2, Interesting)

Faust7 (314817) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193280)

However, both systems come at a cost. Because the words are produced by a computer, the receiver of the call would hear the speaker talking with an artificial voice.

With all due respect to Stephen Hawking, I'd rather not have my friends/parents/S.O. all sound like him.

Re:Hearing a computer talk at you... (1)

CSMastermind (847625) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193317)

Well this is just a guess but I'm sure with some sound programming, voice recording of basic sounds (letters and certain combinations of letters), and a little time and love, in the near future we'd be able to make it sound a lot more like you and alot less like a computer.

Re:Hearing a computer talk at you... (1)

eis271828 (842849) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193747)

So, our little voice rendering machine would have a set of voice patterns to work off of? These could be stolen or copied to fake someone's voice. Of course, that technology already exists, but it's something to think about.

Then again, if it becomes common for computer voices to be heard on the phone, anyone can fake anyone's presence even without voice pattern theft.

Re:Hearing a computer talk at you... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193353)

By "artificial voice" what they really mean is a sample of your voice reading some calibration text, sliced up into phoenemes and played back in bits and at the proper speeds based on what your face is doing. It doesn't actually need to know what you're saying, it just knows what your face is doing when you're saying it. It's just convenient to break it up at phoenemes because those are the smallest useful repeated elements in speech, which means you will have the smallest useful database of samples to play back, simplifying the goal of choosing the proper sound for the proper grimace.

Re:Hearing a computer talk at you... (1)

Mitaphane (96828) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193437)

Not all computer generated speech sounds completely robotic. AT&T has had it's Natural Voices Speech Engine demo [att.com] around for some time. I'm surprised that more text-to-speech programs haven't used this. I suppose licensing is pretty 'spensive.

Re:Hearing a computer talk at you... (1)

Blondie-Wan (559212) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193637)

Even if this tech is perfected, it won't mean everybody's normal, day-to-day speaking voices will be replaced with it. It's something you'd only hear in certain situations.

Re:Hearing a computer talk at you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193978)

Speech synthesis is a *lot* better than that these days. For instance my E*TRADE account has phone-based access that uses both prerecorded snippets (for the greeting, etc) and synthesized voice for reading the names of companies in my portfolio, and I can barely tell the difference.

Stephen Hawking has said on several occasions that he wants to keep his current voice because that's "his voice" and he wants people to recognize it as his, even though it sounds weird these days.

It would just be weird to call up your buddy and hear his voice as a woman's though....

Re:Hearing a computer talk at you... (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 9 years ago | (#12194016)

Reproducing audible speech from text is one thing; text doesn't contain the intonations, pace, or cadence of actual speech, and computers can't even make a good guess about replacing that lost information without knowing the intent of what was said.

But producing speech directly from subvocalization should work better, because the speaker is supplying all the inputs of normal speech (except the air). Add to that a few parameters for a vocal tract model (from prerecorded samples), and you might get something pretty decent.

The other big advantage of avoiding automated speech recognition is you allow the listener to disambiguate synonyms, mispronounciations, and accents, and people can do this much better than computers.

Re:Hearing a computer talk at you... (1)

EZLeeAmused (869996) | more than 9 years ago | (#12194153)

In the future, all calls from telemarketers will sound like hot babes. All calls from my boss will sound like Mr. Burns.

Speaker for the Dead (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193287)

Does anyone else remember this type of technology from Speaker for the Dead (The sequal to Ender's Game)?

Why though?! (1)

the_unknown_soldier (675161) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193290)

The speech pattern is sent to a computerised voice generator that recreates the speaker's words.

Would you want to talk to microsoft sam? I can see this being used for speech to text conversions, but will it be possible to recreate tone, emotion? Why would you want to emulate this in a social situation anyway?

Re:Why though?! (1)

argent (18001) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193639)

A lot of people already hate the way they sound on the phone, and could pick a better voice to represent them... dibs on Robin Williams! Alternatively, you could vocode your boss's voice into Frank Welker's or Gilbert Gottfreid's.

Emotions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193889)

...but will it be possible to recreate tone, emotion?

We, logical geeks, don't care about such puny stuff as emotions. Just give us the facts.

Who the heck needs emotions anyway?

Expletive NOT deleted (4, Interesting)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193295)

This is a great idea until you mutter some expletive under your breath while talking to your boss. I can also foresee some embarrassments for those that can't read without moving their lips.

Re:Expletive NOT deleted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193321)

those that can't read without moving their lips

huh?

Re:Expletive NOT deleted (1)

aslate (675607) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193407)

Exactly, what about situations where you cover the mouthpiece and mouth to someone something? All goes through to the other end of the call!

Re:Expletive NOT deleted (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193477)

Of course, if you used your cellphone without talking (just mouthing the words), you'd look stupider than ever.

Vocal cords (5, Interesting)

DaLukester (687299) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193296)

My first question is this: The vocal cords are resonators, they move because air is moving over them. If the cords aren't making any noise, it's because they aren't moving. If they aren't moving how does this system pick up their movement. If you have to sub vocalise (ie mumble quietly to yourself) then how is this different from the throat mike that has been around for ages. Very skimpy article for the New Scientist (all new, no science)

Re:Vocal cords (1)

benchbri (764527) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193347)

Vocal Cords vibrate by the breath you pass over them. Ever try to talk when you have the wind knocked out of you? it's the same thing.

Re:Vocal cords (2, Informative)

Zenmonkeycat (749580) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193469)

It's not working based on the movement of the vocal chords, it's working based on the electrical impulses sent from the brain to muscles in the throat and mouth. I'm sure that the tension of the vocal chords could be measured, but the chords themselves don't have to be moving.

Vocal chords themselves are not resonators, they simply excite motion in the air. The throat, mouth, nasal passages and sinuses are the resonators, sort of like the body of a guitar resonates with the sound excited by a string being plucked.

Re:Vocal cords (4, Interesting)

wik (10258) | more than 9 years ago | (#12194152)

I'm also suspicious. The distinction between many sounds is the placement or movement of the tongue. For instance, I can whisper and be understandable without moving my vocal cords. They describe this device as something that "detects" speech by observing the vocal cords, not the tongue. How does it work?

Also, it sounds like the speech is recognized and converted into words in this system (as in Sphyinx or commercial voice recognition software?). The accuracy of even the best voice recognition software is still too poor to be used in general applications (and requires a fast P4 to do the recognition in real-time). It'll be a while before any cell phones carry this.

I read about it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193314)

Pretty cool, I read on slashdot that NASA was working on it.

I guess it's a slow newsday.

Also known as (2, Interesting)

Jobeyonekenobi (695807) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193324)

This reminds me of some Ann mccaffrey novels where the main characters communicate via 'sub-vocalisation'. It was a skill that needed to be learned and ended up being a slight movement of the jaws and some light humming when people were talking. If I remember correctly, also through some of Vernor Vinges' novels (namely A Deepness in the Sky)

There's more to come? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193329)

I can already see the next challenge: generating speech not based on muscle nerve signals, but directly on brain activity...

Options for military / police uses seem unlimited. However I wouldn't really want that blonde to know what my nerves are doing about her...

Great, but I want the brain-wave capture (1)

mi (197448) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193332)

I'll wait for something like this [bbc.co.uk] to develop beyond "computer cursor control". With little more tweaking it should be possible to use this thing to, at least, send text messages...

Loss of jobs? (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193337)

Looks like these folks [inquista.com] might be looking for a new line of work.

But that's progress. innit?

How very 1980's. (2, Informative)

Conor Turton (639827) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193357)

Jesus...living in the 80's? Military radios were using throat mikes back in the 80's.

In soviet russia... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193366)

... you don't own your cellphones, your cellphones own you!!!

Re:In soviet russia... (-1)

mrjb (547783) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193455)

Yeah, same collar but they'll electrocute you if you say something they don't like.

privacy (3, Interesting)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193368)

However, both systems come at a cost. Because the words are produced by a computer, the receiver of the call would hear the speaker talking with an artificial voice.

And the cost of implicitly having every single word of your conversation immediately recorded into digital format. Very archivable.

They talk louder (0, Troll)

northcat (827059) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193376)

A lot of people using mobile-phones/phones talk louder than it's actually necessary. And not because they think speaking that loud is necessary. So this might not necessarily reduce the voice of phone users.

Re:They talk louder (1)

Eternally optimistic (822953) | more than 9 years ago | (#12194023)

But what they are saying is important !

How is this different form NASA's version? (2, Interesting)

alex_guy_CA (748887) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193377)

"NASA Develops System To Computerize Silent, "Subvocal Speech" "

http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2004/mar/HQ_04093_ subvocal_speech.html

Are they using different methods? If they are (no time to RTHA) that would be cool, as it might double the chances of a working system.

Two conversations at once (1)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193394)

What would make the technology even cooler is a speech channel segmentation system that directs out-loud speech to one conversation/phone circuit and silent/sub-vocalized speech to another conversation. That way someone could really have two conversations at once without putting people on hold/swapping lines.

To avoid collisions, the receiver could use a buffer and sound accelerator that alternates the streams from the other side of the conversation. The only challenge would be the latency heard on the other end between your replies. Even this could be covered by stretching each spoken reply so that the recipient hears you speak for slower/longer than you actually do.

Re:Two conversations at once (1)

benchbri (764527) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193420)

You expect ordinary people, who can't drive while on the phone, to be able to talk on two phones at the same time? ...In other news, car crashes up 1200% with this invention.

Not new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193403)

This is not new. When someone learns how to safely and effectively move the electrodes from the peripheral nerves to someplace more central, that will be new.

Subconscious speech? (3, Interesting)

Paul Townend (185536) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193429)

Could this have interesting ramifications when used in an interrogation? Would subvocal speech include bursts of what someone was thinking but did not want to say? Or anything from the subconscious?

Re:Subconscious speech? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193558)

RTFA.

It says "..detect speech via the speaker's nerve and muscle activity, rather than sound itself."

Its not fucking thought-reading device - unless muscles on your head make moves while you are "thinking".. Oh wait.. whats that moving?

Not the first time (1)

Interrupt18 (839674) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193445)

This technology has been previously explored by Canadian researchers. I can't find a better link right now bet here's a MacLeans [macleans.ca] story about one of the scientists. From the article: by attaching sensors over the face and throat muscles that form words, scientists can detect what a person is saying through mouth movement -- in a form of indirect lip-reading -- even in a noisy jet cockpit.

Virtual Betty Moans (1)

OSXexpert (859428) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193448)

I can see it now, we don't need to experience the real thing, or her real voice. Just put these electrodes on dear, and I'll dial in the voice overlay of Susan St. James, or Rachael Welch. Oh my, I have dated myself :)

Thinking out loud (1)

bananahead (829691) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193454)

The next time you are on the phone, stop for a second and recognize that there are actually several conversations going on at the same time. The one conversation that is obvious is the vocal one, because everyone within 60 feet of you can hear it. The less obvious are the conversations you are having with yourself during the vocal conversation. You are thinking about what the person on the phone is really trying to say, you are thinking about how to cut the conversation short, you are thinking about what to have for lunch, you are thinking about the fact that you are in heavy rush-hour traffic and you are wondering why your foot hurts. The cacophony of noise that goes on inside your head at any given time is only managable by the massive power of the human brain to keep it all straight. So, and I will now get to my point, how will this little device decide what portions of which thought streams actually belong to what would be the vocal conversation? What is going to prevent it from telling your boss, during your conversation about your performance review, that you think his new hair piece looks like chewed rope?

Re:Thinking out loud (1)

Interrupt18 (839674) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193466)

From TFA: the collar detects changes in capacitance caused by movement of the vocal cords It's not reading your mind. The only danger would be if you were muttering things about you boss under your breath.

Re:Thinking out loud (1)

Kiffer (206134) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193934)

except that there is a difference between subvocalising and mumbling under you breath...
I feel my self doing this all the time.
mostly when i'm cursing customers or planing out what i'm going to say in an email.

Instead of worrying about cell phones exploding... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193458)

... we will now also have to worry about them shocking us as well?

vocal cords (1)

Whafro (193881) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193471)

can we stop calling them vocal cords? they resemble nothing like cords. they are vocal folds, and we should think of them that way.

and a pair of pants... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193693)

Why do we call it a pair? There's only one of it!

Can we stop this, please?

Re:vocal cords (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193884)

It's Greek buddy. More similar to 'chord' as in sound rather than 'cord' as in string. It's from the greek word 'chorde,' (excuse my transliteration) which happens to have both sound and string essential to its meaning. 'Fold' doesn't communicate the notion of producing sound at all.

Almost as good as Dragon Dictate! (1)

PainBreak (794152) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193484)

Now translating all of your childhood favorites! "Old McDonalds on a farm, EIDE/IO."

I have been communicating without speech for years (4, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193494)

I see a pretty girl, I get a bulge in my pants. Pretty girls sees me, sees bulge, smacks me in the face. Not a word said yet we are all perfectly clear where we stand.

Wha? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193505)

This looks like pretty neat technology; if used with cell phones it could give the user a little more privacy, and the rest of us a little more peace and quiet.

I think history shows that people will use the rudest and most annoying use of a technology whenever possible. In this case, I think they will still use "push to talk", not speak, but have the speakers on as loud as possible to "share" the other end of the conversation.

Swiss army has had these for a while (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193599)

We use it usually in places with noise like tanks. The receiver doesn't hear any background noise. Would be great for night clubs :)

You realize we all look crazy (3, Interesting)

darkonc (47285) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193606)

The other day, I walked by someone who was sitting on a park bench by himeelf and talking to nothing/nobody in particular. It hit me that, 10 years ago, I would have taken this as a clear sign that the poor sod was completely off of his rocker. These days, however, if you see someone doing that, best bet is that (s)he's got a handfree cell phone on him and is talking to someone real.

Now, I'm gonna have to deal with people walking around Mumbling to themselves!

The next time I walk into an insane asylum^W^W Mental Health Facility, the only way I'm gonna be able to tell the difference between the visitors/staff and the patients is goint to be by looking for a badge.

Actually, now that I mention it...

Creeping people out (3, Funny)

EnsilZah (575600) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193667)

I can't wait to have one so i could hook it up to some speakers and talk to people without moving my lips.

Would probably creep people out... i mean... more than i usually do.. =\

Re:Creeping people out (1)

Easy2RememberNick (179395) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193758)

Sort of like Return to the Planet of the Apes? The advanced humans would raise their eybrows nod their head forward and you'd hear them talk.

Technology (1)

suwain_2 (260792) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193705)

if used with cell phones it could give the user a little more privacy, and the rest of us a little more peace and quiet."

But you'd look like a lunatic walking around moving your mouth but not talking?

Re:Technology (2, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193757)

But you'd look like a lunatic walking around moving your mouth but not talking?

People talking on handsfree cells already look like that.

Can you hear me now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193750)

.

Can you hear me now?

replacement for a lost larynx ? (1)

Easy2RememberNick (179395) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193790)

I wonder if it would work for people who lost their larynx and who have to use those vibrator things to speak. Just have a speaker with a natural sounding voice and use it that way, to speak. It would look freaky, maybe a way to put a peaker in the mouth would help. Then again if the surgery removed the larynx maybe there's no muscle respone to detect.

My Teacher Flunked The Planet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193807)

Anyone ever read the excellent "My Teacher Is An Alien" series when they were young? I highly recommend it to anyone with kids in elementary school - the covers may look stupid, but the series is actually a very well-thought-out 4-part scientific adventure that deals with space travel, other forms of life, inter-planetary relations, and ethics. I think "My Teacher Flunked The Planet" was the name of the fourth one, where an alien takes the teenage humans to witness suffering on Earth. Somehow they are invisible, and they use little sensors on vocal cords or motor neurons or something (can't remember exactly) to communicate simply by mouthing words. I guess it wasn't a new idea, but it thrilled me at the time.

mod d0w8 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193819)

abysmal sales and we get there with The curtai8s flew mistake of electing the deal with you won't be shouting Obseesives and the Creek, abysmal

Brin (2, Insightful)

SWroclawski (95770) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193828)

This is very similar to David Brin's idea in the Book "Earth" with people needing to wear a strap on thier chin to measure the elctrical impulses for the very same reason.

In the book he postulates that doing so, the actual movement can be reduced, and in time, you can speak quicker with this method than you can when actually vocalizing.

Brin thought of dangers too ... (1)

Heisenbug (122836) | more than 9 years ago | (#12194035)

That book is exactly what I thought of as well. I seem to come across half a dozen news stories every year that he already thought of ... anyone who hasn't read the book, should.

Anyway, in Earth, most people didn't use this technology even though it was available. The reason was control -- it took way too much concentration to control all of your thoughts *before* they activated subvocalizations. At best it was just annoying, like controlling a mouse on too much caffeine. At worst it could get pretty embarrassing ...

Speaking of which, that book, which was written in 1985, also featured an email system that held all your outgoing mail for a couple of hours in case of second thoughts, and basically predicted all the effects of effortless worldwide communication. I'm sure he wasn't the only one who got what was going on back then, but he was probably one of very few who could *also* write decent sex scenes ...

This would breach our privacy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193890)


Apparently the user doesn't even need to speak the words out loud in order for them to be detected. This looks like pretty neat technology; if used with cell phones it could give the user a little more privacy, and the rest of us a little more peace and quiet.


What do you mean it would give us more privacy?

It would let the person on the other line know what we're thinking!

detection != recognition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193912)

Um, as far I can tell, this basically an endpointing and/or noise-cancellation technique --this isn't speech recognition. It works to *detect* speech signals in cases where there is noise in the environment.
"...the collar detects changes in capacitance caused by movement of the vocal cords, and is designed to allow speech to be heard above loud background noise. ...A neural network processes the data and identifies the pattern of words. The sensor can even detect subvocal or silent speech. The speech pattern is sent to a computerised voice generator that recreates the speaker's words."
Note the word "detect" here, and the extremely vague language. Does this mean that the silent speech is the pattern that is being recreated? Not necessarily.

Bone-induction Mics (4, Interesting)

LordMyren (15499) | more than 9 years ago | (#12193915)

aircraft pilots have been using bone-induction mic's since WWII; there's no other way to block out the background noise. this is interesting because it reads from the nervous system directly

are there any good bone-induction mics for cell phone / portable usage? i spent a while looking a couple years back and turned up two things, both of which were ear-mounted. i'd much rather a throat mounted system; i imagine its much better able to pick up sound.

More on the NASA Ames research (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12193963)

A press release [nasa.gov] .

Good for Stephen Hawking? (1)

saridder (103936) | more than 9 years ago | (#12194059)

I just can't imagine how a computer-generated voice produced from this technology would be better than the current text-to-speech engines (which aren't 90% as effective as human voice) that have the words in plain english before generating the speech. And it's fairly uncomfortable to listen to those programs, never mind converse with. So conversing with a program with less accuracy might make some go insane or casue wars due to some mis-understanding.

At the same time, it's interesting application for people who can't talk, but might have enough movement left in their necks to generate this speech.

Imagine the cell phone conversations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12194111)

The only problem I see with something like that is then the people on the other end would hear things that you never meant to say

"I'm sorry, I didn't catch that, what did you say about 'killing all humans'?"

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