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Sexist computers: male voices are apparently harder to recognize than female ones

Vlad Savov
03.05.10
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Researchers up at the University of Edinburgh have determined that the male voice is harder for voice recognition software to pick up and understand than its female counterpart. This conclusion was reached after telephone conversation recordings were run through a battery of tests, which revealed that men seem to say "umm" and "err" more often, while also identifying that the greatest difficulties arise with words that sound similar and can arise in the same context, such as "him" and "them." Equally troubling is the first word in a sentence, as it comes without context and therefore doesn't benefit from any predictive assistance. Done in partnership with Stanford, the study was aimed at identifying and overcoming the major hurdles to producing usable and reliable voice recognition -- something Google's universal voice translator phone is also aiming to achieve. Let's hope somebody figures out how to get around all our hemming and hawing, eh?

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