MIT Researchers Create a Device to Hear Silent Speech

MIT Researchers Create a Device to Hear Silent Speech

One of the most recent innovations to emerge from the MIT Media Lab is the AlterEgo, a silent speech-hearing gadget. Consider it a virtual assistant similar to Alexa or Siri that you may ask inquiries to and get responses from entirely quietly. Arnav Kapur, a graduate student, and his professor Patti Maes created the gadget with the goal of enhancing human intellect by bringing people and robots closer together.

The prototype is a wearable gadget that resembles a headset but detects vibrations on the jawline rather than sound via a microphone. Thoughts are not read by AlterEgo. What the machine does read are what are known as “subvocalizations,” or words that a speaker says without making any audible lip movements. It detects vibrations caused by subvocalizations along the jawline by placing a collection of electrodes in strategic locations. A machine-learning system receives them as electric impulses and uses them to connect certain signals with words. Then, in place of headphones or earbuds, the gadget wraps around the back of the ear and responds to the user by sending vibrations into the inner ear via the face’s bones. This allows the user to get input in silence without blocking their ear canal, unlike traditional earbuds. As a result, the user may ask inquiries and get replies in total silence.

In the first test of AlterEgo, ten participants each took fifteen minutes to calibrate the gadget to their own vibrations and then whispered math problems for the machine to answer. Its accuracy at the time was 92 percent. The creators have been attempting to improve the word bank and accuracy ever since. Applications for the prototype include simple tasks like interpreting and suggesting chess moves, calculating equations, and surfing the Roku streaming platform.

AlterEgo has a lot of potential benefits over a mobile phone. It enables users to ask a question without breaking the flow of a conversation or speaking out while speaking hands-free and silently. Additionally, it would enable unrestricted communication between users in situations when noise levels are high, like an airport runway or a factory with loud equipment, or low, such when a particular operator is needed to remain quiet. Furthermore, and maybe most significantly, it may help those with impairments who are unable to speak properly.

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