Overall Objectives
Research Program
Application Domains
New Software and Platforms
New Results
Bilateral Contracts and Grants with Industry
Partnerships and Cooperations
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Section: Overall Objectives

Overall Objectives

MULTISPEECH is a joint project between Inria, CNRS and University of Lorraine, hosted in the LORIA laboratory (UMR 7503). The goal of the project is the modeling of speech for facilitating oral-based communication. The name MULTISPEECH comes from the three following aspects that are particularly considered, namely:

The project is organized along the three following scientific challenges:

  • The explicit modeling of speech. - Speech signals result from the movements of articulators. A good knowledge of their position with respect to sounds is essential to improve, on the one hand, articulatory speech synthesis, and on the other hand, the relevance of the diagnosis and of the associated feedback in computer assisted language learning. Production and perception processes are interrelated, so a better understanding of how humans perceive speech will lead to more relevant diagnoses in language learning as well as pointing out critical parameters for expressive speech synthesis. Also, as the expressivity translates into both visual and acoustic effects that must be considered simultaneously, the multimodal components of expressivity, which are both on the voice and on the face, will be addressed to produce expressive multimodal speech.

  • The statistical modeling of speech. - Statistical approaches are common for processing speech and they achieve performance that makes possible their use in actual applications. However, speech recognition systems still have limited capabilities (for example, even if large, the vocabulary is limited) and their performance drops significantly when dealing with degraded speech, such as noisy signals and spontaneous speech. Source separation based approaches will be investigated as a way of making speech recognition systems more robust to noise. Dealing with spontaneous speech and handling new proper names are two critical aspects that will be tackled, along with the use of statistical models for speech-text automatic alignment and for speech production.

  • The estimation and the exploitation of uncertainty in speech processing. - Speech signals are highly variable and often disturbed with noise or other spurious signals (such as music or undesired extra speech). In addition, the output of speech enhancement and of source separation techniques is not exactly the accurate "clean" original signal, and estimation errors have to be taken into account in further processing. This is the goal of computing and handling the uncertainty of the reconstructed signal provided by source separation approaches. Confidence measures associated with word recognition results aim at providing information on the reliability of the hypothesized words. Finally, with respect to phonetic segment boundaries and prosodic parameters no such information is yet available.

Although being interdependent, each of these three scientific challenges constitutes a founding research direction for the MULTISPEECH project. Consequently, the research program is organized along three research directions, each one matching a scientific challenge. A large part of the research is conducted on French speech data; English and German languages are also considered in speech recognition experiments and language learning. Adaptation to other languages of the machine learning based approaches is possible providing the availability of corresponding speech corpora.