Latest in Gear

Image credit: Daisy-Daisy via Getty Images

AI could tell smart speakers what direction your voice is coming from

You wouldn't need to use wake words to issue a command.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
November 3, 2020
99 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

Woman In Kitchen Asking Digital Assistant Question
Daisy-Daisy via Getty Images

AI might soon be an ally in the quest to banish wake words from voice assistants. Carnegie Mellon University researchers have developed a machine learning model that estimates the direction a voice is coming from, indicating your intent without the need for a special phrase or gesture. The approach relies on the inherent properties of sound as it bounces around a room.

The system recognizes that the first, loudest and clearest sound is always the one aimed directly at a given subject. Anything else tends to be quieter, delayed and muffled. The model is also aware that human speech frequencies vary depending on the direction you’re facing. Lower frequencies tend to be more omnidirectional.

This method is “lightweight,” software-based and doesn’t require sending audio data to the cloud, the researchers added.

It could be a while before you see the technology in use, although the team has publicly released code and data to help others build on their work. It’s easy to see where this might lead, at least. You could tell a smart speaker to play music without using a wake word or setting off a horde of other connected devices. It might also help with privacy by requiring your physical presence while eschewing the need for gaze-detecting cameras. In other words, it would be closer to that Star Trek vision of voice assistants that always know when you’re talking to them.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
99 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

The 2020 Engadget Holiday Gift Guide

The 2020 Engadget Holiday Gift Guide

View
Scientists find neutrinos from star fusion for the first time

Scientists find neutrinos from star fusion for the first time

View
The best Black Friday tech deals that are already available

The best Black Friday tech deals that are already available

View
Apple's Intel-powered MacBook Air falls to $799 ahead of Black Friday

Apple's Intel-powered MacBook Air falls to $799 ahead of Black Friday

View
'Marvel's Avengers' hasn't turned a profit yet

'Marvel's Avengers' hasn't turned a profit yet

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr