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Google AI can focus on individual speakers in a crowd

San Francisco, April 13: Just as most smartphone cameras now allow users to focus on a single object among many, it may soon be possible to pick out individual voices in a crowd by suppressing all other sounds, thanks to a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) system developed by Google researchers. This is an important development as computers as not as good as humans at focusing their attention on a particular person in a noisy environment. Known as the cocktail party effect, the capability to mentally “mute” all other voices and sounds comes natural to us humans.
In a new paper, the researchers presented a deep learning audio-visual model for isolating a single speech signal from a mixture of sounds such as other voices and background noise. The method works on ordinary videos with a single audio track, and all that is required from the user is to select the face of the person in the video they want to hear, or to have such a person be selected algorithmically based on context. The researchers believe this capability can have a wide range of applications, from speech enhancement and recognition in videos, through video conferencing, to improved hearing aids, especially in situations where there are multiple people speaking. (IANS)