If you think having your phone identify the nearest bus stop is cool, wait until it identifies your mood.
New research by a team of engineers at the University of Rochester may soon make that possible. At the IEEE Workshop on Spoken Language Technology on Dec. 5, the researchers will describe a new computer program that gauges human feelings through speech, with substantially greater accuracy than existing approaches.
Surprisingly, the program doesn't look at the meaning of the words. "We actually used recordings of actors reading out the date of the month – it really doesn't matter what they say, it's how they're saying it that we're interested in," said Wendi Heinzelman, professor of electrical and computer engineering.
Heinzelman explained that the program analyzes 12 features of speech, such as pitch and volume, to identify one of six emotions from a sound recording. And it achieves 81 percent accuracy – a significant improvement on earlier studies that achieved only about 55 percent accuracy.
The research has already been used to develop a prototype of an app. The app displays either a happy or sad face after it records and analyzes the user's voice. It was built by one of Heinzelman's graduate students, Na Yang, during a summer internship at Microsoft Research. "The research is still in its early days," Heinzelman added, "but it is easy to envision a more complex app that could use this technology for everything from adjusting the colors displayed on your mobile to playing music fitting to how you're feeling after recording your voice."
Heinzelman and her team are collaborating with Rochester psychologists Melissa Sturge-Apple and Patrick Davies, who are currently studying the interactions between teenagers and their parents. "A reliable way of categorizing emotions could be very useful in our research,". Sturge-Apple said. "It would mean that a researcher doesn't have to listen to the conversations and manually input the emotion of different people at different stages."
Teaching a computer to understand emotions begins with recognizing how humans do so.
"You might hear someone speak and think 'oh, he sounds angry!' But what is it that makes you think that?" asks Sturge-Apple. She explained that emotion affects the way people speak by altering the volume, pitch and even the harmonics of their speech. "We don't pay attention to these features individually, we have just come to learn what angry sounds like – particularly for people we know," she adds.
But for a computer to categorize emotion it needs to work with measurable quantities. So the researchers established 12 specific features in speech that were measured in each recording at short intervals. The researchers then categorized each of the recordings and used them to teach the computer program what "sad," "happy," "fearful," "disgusted," or "neutral" sound like.The system then analyzed new recordings and tried to determine whether the voice in the recording portrayed any of the known emotions. If the computer program was unable to decide between two or more emotions, it just left that recording unclassified.
Their new results also confirm this finding. If the speech-based emotion classification is used on a voice different from the one that trained the system, the accuracy dropped from 81 percent to about 30 percent. The researchers are now looking at ways of minimizing this effect, for example, by training the system with a voice in the same age group and of the same gender. As Heinzelman said, "there are still challenges to be resolved if we want to use this system in an environment resembling a real-life situation, but we do know that the algorithm we developed is more effective than previous attempts."
Na Yang was awarded a grant by the International Speech Communication Association to attend the SLT Workshop.
For more information on the project visit http://www.ece.rochester.edu/projects/wcng/project_bridge.html.
About the University of Rochester
The University of Rochester is one of the nation's leading private universities. Located in Rochester, N.Y., the University gives students exceptional opportunities for interdisciplinary study and close collaboration with faculty through its unique cluster-based curriculum. Its College, School of Arts and Sciences, and Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are complemented by its Eastman School of Music, Simon School of Business, Warner School of Education, Laboratory for Laser Energetics, School of Medicine and Dentistry, School of Nursing, Eastman Institute for Oral Health, and the Memorial Art Gallery.
Leonor Sierra | EurekAlert!
3-D scanning with water
24.07.2017 | Association for Computing Machinery
Defining the backbone of future mobile internet access
21.07.2017 | IHP - Leibniz-Institut für innovative Mikroelektronik
3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects
A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....
A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
24.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences