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Subvocal Speech Demo
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NASA scientists have begun to computerize human, silent reading using nerve signals in the throat that control speech. In preliminary experiments, NASA scientists found that small, button-sized sensors, stuck under the chin and on either side of the ‘Adam’s apple,’ could gather nerve signals, send them to a processor and then to a computer program that translates them into words.

"What is analyzed is silent, or sub-auditory, speech, such as when a person silently reads or talks to himself," said Chuck Jorgensen (pictured), a scientist whose team is developing silent, subvocal speech recognition at NASA Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

Please credit photo to NASA Ames Research Center, Dominic Hart.

Photo No. ACD04-0024-001

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NASA scientists have begun to computerize human, silent reading using nerve signals in the throat that control speech. In preliminary experiments, NASA scientists found that small, button-sized sensors, stuck under the chin and on either side of the ‘Adam’s apple,’ could gather nerve signals, send them to a processor and then to a computer program that translates them into words.

"What is analyzed is silent, or sub-auditory, speech, such as when a person silently reads or talks to himself," said Chuck Jorgensen (pictured), a scientist whose team is developing silent, subvocal speech recognition at NASA Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

Please credit photo to NASA Ames Research Center, Dominic Hart.

Photo No. ACD04-0024-002

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To learn more about what is in the patterns of the nerve signals that control vocal chords, muscles and tongue position, NASA Ames scientists are studying the complex nerve signal patterns. "We use an amplifier to strengthen the electrical nerve signals. These are processed to remove noise, and then we process them to see useful parts of the signals to show one word from another," Jorgensen said.

After the signals are amplified, computer software ‘reads’ the signals to recognize each word and sound. "We use neural network software to learn and classify the words," Jorgensen said. "It’s recognizing the pattern of a word in the signal."

Please credit photo to NASA Ames Research Center, Dominic Hart.

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In their first experiment, scientists ‘trained’ special software to recognize six words and 10 digits that the researchers ‘repeated’ subvocally. Initial word recognition results were an average of 92 percent accurate. The first sub-vocal words the system ‘learned’ were ‘stop,’ ‘go,’ ‘left,’ ‘right,’ ‘alpha’ and ‘omega’ and the digits ‘zero’ through ‘nine.’ Silently speaking these words, scientists conducted simple searches on the Internet by using a number chart that represents the alphabet to control a Web browser program. Please credit photo to NASA Ames Research Center, Dominic Hart.

"We took the alphabet and put it into a matrix -- like a calendar. We numbered the columns and rows, and we could identify each letter with a pair of single-digit numbers," Jorgensen said. "So we silently spelled out ‘NASA’ and then submitted it to a well-known Web search engine. We electronically numbered the Web pages that came up as search results. We used the numbers again to choose Web pages to examine. This proves we could browse the Web without touching a keyboard," Jorgensen explained.

Please credit photo to NASA Ames Research Center, Dominic Hart.

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A second demonstration will be to control a mechanical device using a simple set of commands, according to Jorgensen. His team is planning tests with a simulated Mars rover. "We can have the model rover go left or right using silently ‘spoken’ words," Jorgensen said.

Please credit photo to NASA Ames Research Center, Dominic Hart.

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A second demonstration will be to control a mechanical device using a simple set of commands, according to Jorgensen. His team is planning tests with a simulated Mars rover. "We can have the model rover go left or right using silently ‘spoken’ words," Jorgensen said.

Please credit photo to NASA Ames Research Center, Dominic Hart.

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People in noisy conditions could use the system when privacy is needed, such as during telephone conversations on buses or trains, according to scientists.

Please credit photo to NASA Ames Research Center, Dominic Hart.

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RELATED LINKS
+ NASA Develops System to Computerize Silent, 'Subvocal Speech'
 

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