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Speech recognition using ad-hoc microphone arrays

Himawan, Ivan (2010) Speech recognition using ad-hoc microphone arrays. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Abstract

While close talking microphones give the best signal quality and produce the highest accuracy from current Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) systems, the speech signal enhanced by microphone array has been shown to be an effective alternative in a noisy environment. The use of microphone arrays in contrast to close talking microphones alleviates the feeling of discomfort and distraction to the user. For this reason, microphone arrays are popular and have been used in a wide range of applications such as teleconferencing, hearing aids, speaker tracking, and as the front-end to speech recognition systems. With advances in sensor and sensor network technology, there is considerable potential for applications that employ ad-hoc networks of microphone-equipped devices collaboratively as a virtual microphone array. By allowing such devices to be distributed throughout the users’ environment, the microphone positions are no longer constrained to traditional fixed geometrical arrangements. This flexibility in the means of data acquisition allows different audio scenes to be captured to give a complete picture of the working environment. In such ad-hoc deployment of microphone sensors, however, the lack of information about the location of devices and active speakers poses technical challenges for array signal processing algorithms which must be addressed to allow deployment in real-world applications. While not an ad-hoc sensor network, conditions approaching this have in effect been imposed in recent National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) ASR evaluations on distant microphone recordings of meetings. The NIST evaluation data comes from multiple sites, each with different and often loosely specified distant microphone configurations. This research investigates how microphone array methods can be applied for ad-hoc microphone arrays. A particular focus is on devising methods that are robust to unknown microphone placements in order to improve the overall speech quality and recognition performance provided by the beamforming algorithms. In ad-hoc situations, microphone positions and likely source locations are not known and beamforming must be achieved blindly. There are two general approaches that can be employed to blindly estimate the steering vector for beamforming. The first is direct estimation without regard to the microphone and source locations. An alternative approach is instead to first determine the unknown microphone positions through array calibration methods and then to use the traditional geometrical formulation for the steering vector. Following these two major approaches investigated in this thesis, a novel clustered approach which includes clustering the microphones and selecting the clusters based on their proximity to the speaker is proposed. Novel experiments are conducted to demonstrate that the proposed method to automatically select clusters of microphones (ie, a subarray), closely located both to each other and to the desired speech source, may in fact provide a more robust speech enhancement and recognition than the full array could.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 34461
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Clements, Judith, Sridharan, Subramanian, Kedda, Mary, Mason, Michael, McCowan, Iain, & Morris, Charles
Keywords: ad-hoc array, microphone array, beamforming, array calibration, blind speech separation, speech enhancement, automatic speech recognition
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Engineering Systems
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 13 Sep 2010 10:23
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2011 05:57

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