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"speech": models, code, and papers

Sub-word Level Lip Reading With Visual Attention

Oct 14, 2021
Prajwal K R, Triantafyllos Afouras, Andrew Zisserman

The goal of this paper is to learn strong lip reading models that can recognise speech in silent videos. Most prior works deal with the open-set visual speech recognition problem by adapting existing automatic speech recognition techniques on top of trivially pooled visual features. Instead, in this paper we focus on the unique challenges encountered in lip reading and propose tailored solutions. To that end we make the following contributions: (1) we propose an attention-based pooling mechanism to aggregate visual speech representations; (2) we use sub-word units for lip reading for the first time and show that this allows us to better model the ambiguities of the task; (3) we propose a training pipeline that balances the lip reading performance with other key factors such as data and compute efficiency. Following the above, we obtain state-of-the-art results on the challenging LRS2 and LRS3 benchmarks when training on public datasets, and even surpass models trained on large-scale industrial datasets by using an order of magnitude less data. Our best model achieves 22.6% word error rate on the LRS2 dataset, a performance unprecedented for lip reading models, significantly reducing the performance gap between lip reading and automatic speech recognition.

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Sequential End-to-End Intent and Slot Label Classification and Localization

Jun 08, 2021
Yiran Cao, Nihal Potdar, Anderson R. Avila

Human-computer interaction (HCI) is significantly impacted by delayed responses from a spoken dialogue system. Hence, end-to-end (e2e) spoken language understanding (SLU) solutions have recently been proposed to decrease latency. Such approaches allow for the extraction of semantic information directly from the speech signal, thus bypassing the need for a transcript from an automatic speech recognition (ASR) system. In this paper, we propose a compact e2e SLU architecture for streaming scenarios, where chunks of the speech signal are processed continuously to predict intent and slot values. Our model is based on a 3D convolutional neural network (3D-CNN) and a unidirectional long short-term memory (LSTM). We compare the performance of two alignment-free losses: the connectionist temporal classification (CTC) method and its adapted version, namely connectionist temporal localization (CTL). The latter performs not only the classification but also localization of sequential audio events. The proposed solution is evaluated on the Fluent Speech Command dataset and results show our model ability to process incoming speech signal, reaching accuracy as high as 98.97 % for CTC and 98.78 % for CTL on single-label classification, and as high as 95.69 % for CTC and 95.28 % for CTL on two-label prediction.

* Accepted at Interspeech 2021 

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Improving low-resource ASR performance with untranscribed out-of-domain data

Jun 02, 2021
Jayadev Billa

Semi-supervised training (SST) is a common approach to leverage untranscribed/unlabeled speech data to improve automatic speech recognition performance in low-resource languages. However, if the available unlabeled speech is mismatched to the target domain, SST is not as effective, and in many cases performs worse than the original system. In this paper, we address the issue of low-resource ASR when only untranscribed out-of-domain speech data is readily available in the target language. Specifically, we look to improve performance on conversational/telephony speech (target domain) using web resources, in particular YouTube data, which more closely resembles news/topical broadcast data. Leveraging SST, we show that while in some cases simply pooling the out-of-domain data with the training data lowers word error rate (WER), in all cases, we see improvements if we train first with the out-of-domain data and then fine-tune the resulting model with the original training data. Using 2000 hours of speed perturbed YouTube audio in each target language, with semi-supervised transcripts, we show improvements on multiple languages/data sets, of up to 16.3% relative improvement in WER over the baseline systems and up to 7.4% relative improvement in WER over a system that simply pools the out-of-domain data with the training data.

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Bi-APC: Bidirectional Autoregressive Predictive Coding for Unsupervised Pre-training and Its Application to Children's ASR

Feb 12, 2021
Ruchao Fan, Amber Afshan, Abeer Alwan

We present a bidirectional unsupervised model pre-training (UPT) method and apply it to children's automatic speech recognition (ASR). An obstacle to improving child ASR is the scarcity of child speech databases. A common approach to alleviate this problem is model pre-training using data from adult speech. Pre-training can be done using supervised (SPT) or unsupervised methods, depending on the availability of annotations. Typically, SPT performs better. In this paper, we focus on UPT to address the situations when pre-training data are unlabeled. Autoregressive predictive coding (APC), a UPT method, predicts frames from only one direction, limiting its use to uni-directional pre-training. Conventional bidirectional UPT methods, however, predict only a small portion of frames. To extend the benefits of APC to bi-directional pre-training, Bi-APC is proposed. We then use adaptation techniques to transfer knowledge learned from adult speech (using the Librispeech corpus) to child speech (OGI Kids corpus). LSTM-based hybrid systems are investigated. For the uni-LSTM structure, APC obtains similar WER improvements to SPT over the baseline. When applied to BLSTM, however, APC is not as competitive as SPT, but our proposed Bi-APC has comparable improvements to SPT.

* Accepted to ICASSP2021 

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Real-time Speaker counting in a cocktail party scenario using Attention-guided Convolutional Neural Network

Oct 30, 2021
Midia Yousefi, John H. L. Hansen

Most current speech technology systems are designed to operate well even in the presence of multiple active speakers. However, most solutions assume that the number of co-current speakers is known. Unfortunately, this information might not always be available in real-world applications. In this study, we propose a real-time, single-channel attention-guided Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) to estimate the number of active speakers in overlapping speech. The proposed system extracts higher-level information from the speech spectral content using a CNN model. Next, the attention mechanism summarizes the extracted information into a compact feature vector without losing critical information. Finally, the active speakers are classified using a fully connected network. Experiments on simulated overlapping speech using WSJ corpus show that the attention solution is shown to improve the performance by almost 3% absolute over conventional temporal average pooling. The proposed Attention-guided CNN achieves 76.15% for both Weighted Accuracy and average Recall, and 75.80% Precision on speech segments as short as 20 frames (i.e., 200 ms). All the classification metrics exceed 92% for the attention-guided model in offline scenarios where the input signal is more than 100 frames long (i.e., 1s).

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End to End ASR System with Automatic Punctuation Insertion

Dec 03, 2020
Yushi Guan

Recent Automatic Speech Recognition systems have been moving towards end-to-end systems that can be trained together. Numerous techniques that have been proposed recently enabled this trend, including feature extraction with CNNs, context capturing and acoustic feature modeling with RNNs, automatic alignment of input and output sequences using Connectionist Temporal Classifications, as well as replacing traditional n-gram language models with RNN Language Models. Historically, there has been a lot of interest in automatic punctuation in textual or speech to text context. However, there seems to be little interest in incorporating automatic punctuation into the emerging neural network based end-to-end speech recognition systems, partially due to the lack of English speech corpus with punctuated transcripts. In this study, we propose a method to generate punctuated transcript for the TEDLIUM dataset using transcripts available from We also propose an end-to-end ASR system that outputs words and punctuations concurrently from speech signals. Combining Damerau Levenshtein Distance and slot error rate into DLev-SER, we enable measurement of punctuation error rate when the hypothesis text is not perfectly aligned with the reference. Compared with previous methods, our model reduces slot error rate from 0.497 to 0.341.

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The Cocktail Fork Problem: Three-Stem Audio Separation for Real-World Soundtracks

Oct 19, 2021
Darius Petermann, Gordon Wichern, Zhong-Qiu Wang, Jonathan Le Roux

The cocktail party problem aims at isolating any source of interest within a complex acoustic scene, and has long inspired audio source separation research. Recent efforts have mainly focused on separating speech from noise, speech from speech, musical instruments from each other, or sound events from each other. However, separating an audio mixture (e.g., movie soundtrack) into the three broad categories of speech, music, and sound effects (here understood to include ambient noise and natural sound events) has been left largely unexplored, despite a wide range of potential applications. This paper formalizes this task as the cocktail fork problem, and presents the Divide and Remaster (DnR) dataset to foster research on this topic. DnR is built from three well-established audio datasets (LibriVox, FMA, FSD50k), taking care to reproduce conditions similar to professionally produced content in terms of source overlap and relative loudness, and made available at CD quality. We benchmark standard source separation algorithms on DnR, and further introduce a new mixed-STFT-resolution model to better address the variety of acoustic characteristics of the three source types. Our best model produces SI-SDR improvements over the mixture of 11.3 dB for music, 11.8 dB for speech, and 10.9 dB for sound effects.

* Submitted to ICASSP2022. For resources and examples, see 

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EasyCom: An Augmented Reality Dataset to Support Algorithms for Easy Communication in Noisy Environments

Jul 09, 2021
Jacob Donley, Vladimir Tourbabin, Jung-Suk Lee, Mark Broyles, Hao Jiang, Jie Shen, Maja Pantic, Vamsi Krishna Ithapu, Ravish Mehra

Augmented Reality (AR) as a platform has the potential to facilitate the reduction of the cocktail party effect. Future AR headsets could potentially leverage information from an array of sensors spanning many different modalities. Training and testing signal processing and machine learning algorithms on tasks such as beam-forming and speech enhancement require high quality representative data. To the best of the author's knowledge, as of publication there are no available datasets that contain synchronized egocentric multi-channel audio and video with dynamic movement and conversations in a noisy environment. In this work, we describe, evaluate and release a dataset that contains over 5 hours of multi-modal data useful for training and testing algorithms for the application of improving conversations for an AR glasses wearer. We provide speech intelligibility, quality and signal-to-noise ratio improvement results for a baseline method and show improvements across all tested metrics. The dataset we are releasing contains AR glasses egocentric multi-channel microphone array audio, wide field-of-view RGB video, speech source pose, headset microphone audio, annotated voice activity, speech transcriptions, head bounding boxes, target of speech and source identification labels. We have created and are releasing this dataset to facilitate research in multi-modal AR solutions to the cocktail party problem.

* Dataset is available at: 

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Where are we in semantic concept extraction for Spoken Language Understanding?

Jun 24, 2021
Sahar Ghannay, Antoine Caubrière, Salima Mdhaffar, Gaëlle Laperrière, Bassam Jabaian, Yannick Estève

Spoken language understanding (SLU) topic has seen a lot of progress these last three years, with the emergence of end-to-end neural approaches. Spoken language understanding refers to natural language processing tasks related to semantic extraction from speech signal, like named entity recognition from speech or slot filling task in a context of human-machine dialogue. Classically, SLU tasks were processed through a cascade approach that consists in applying, firstly, an automatic speech recognition process, followed by a natural language processing module applied to the automatic transcriptions. These three last years, end-to-end neural approaches, based on deep neural networks, have been proposed in order to directly extract the semantics from speech signal, by using a single neural model. More recent works on self-supervised training with unlabeled data open new perspectives in term of performance for automatic speech recognition and natural language processing. In this paper, we present a brief overview of the recent advances on the French MEDIA benchmark dataset for SLU, with or without the use of additional data. We also present our last results that significantly outperform the current state-of-the-art with a Concept Error Rate (CER) of 11.2%, instead of 13.6% for the last state-of-the-art system presented this year.

* Submitted to the SPECOM 2021 conference 

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Vocoder-free End-to-End Voice Conversion with Transformer Network

Feb 05, 2020
June-Woo Kim, Ho-Young Jung, Minho Lee

Mel-frequency filter bank (MFB) based approaches have the advantage of learning speech compared to raw spectrum since MFB has less feature size. However, speech generator with MFB approaches require additional vocoder that needs a huge amount of computation expense for training process. The additional pre/post processing such as MFB and vocoder is not essential to convert real human speech to others. It is possible to only use the raw spectrum along with the phase to generate different style of voices with clear pronunciation. In this regard, we propose a fast and effective approach to convert realistic voices using raw spectrum in a parallel manner. Our transformer-based model architecture which does not have any CNN or RNN layers has shown the advantage of learning fast and solved the limitation of sequential computation of conventional RNN. In this paper, we introduce a vocoder-free end-to-end voice conversion method using transformer network. The presented conversion model can also be used in speaker adaptation for speech recognition. Our approach can convert the source voice to a target voice without using MFB and vocoder. We can get an adapted MFB for speech recognition by multiplying the converted magnitude with phase. We perform our voice conversion experiments on TIDIGITS dataset using the metrics such as naturalness, similarity, and clarity with mean opinion score, respectively.

* Work in progress 

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