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Google AI can focus on individual speakers in a crowd

The visual signal not only improves the speech separation quality significantly in cases of mixed speech, but, importantly, it also associates the separated, clean speech tracks

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Google india launches 'Tz' to help people pay their utility bills. Wikimedia Commons
Google AI to identify speakers from crowd. Wikimedia Commons

Just as most smartphone cameras now allow users to focus on a single object among many, it may soon be possible to pick out individual voices in a crowd by suppressing all other sounds, thanks to a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) system developed by Google researchers.

This is an important development as computers as not as good as humans at focusing their attention on a particular person in a noisy environment. Known as the cocktail party effect, the capability to mentally “mute” all other voices and sounds comes natural to us humans.

Google has collaborated with getty images. Wikimedia Commons
Google AI will identify individual speakers now. Wikimedia Commons

However, automatic speech separation — separating an audio signal into its individual speech sources — remains a significant challenge for computers, Inbar Mosseri and Oran Lang, software engineers at Google Research, wrote in a blog post this week. In a new paper, the researchers presented a deep learning audio-visual model for isolating a single speech signal from a mixture of sounds such as other voices and background noise.

“In this work, we are able to computationally produce videos in which speech of specific people is enhanced while all other sounds are suppressed,” Mosseri and Lang said. The method works on ordinary videos with a single audio track, and all that is required from the user is to select the face of the person in the video they want to hear, or to have such a person be selected algorithmically based on context.

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The researchers believe this capability can have a wide range of applications, from speech enhancement and recognition in videos, through video conferencing, to improved hearing aids, especially in situations where there are multiple people speaking. “A unique aspect of our technique is in combining both the auditory and visual signals of an input video to separate the speech,” the researchers said.

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This will also help in speech enhancement . VOA

“Intuitively, movements of a person’s mouth, for example, should correlate with the sounds produced as that person is speaking, which in turn can help identify which parts of the audio correspond to that person,” they explained.

The visual signal not only improves the speech separation quality significantly in cases of mixed speech, but, importantly, it also associates the separated, clean speech tracks with the visible speakers in the video, the researchers said. IANS

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Google Launching New Photo Back up Options For Users in India

Launched in May 2015, Google Photos is a photo sharing and storage service developed by the search-engine giant that gives users free, unlimited storage for their photos

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The Google logo is seen at a start-up campus in Paris, France, Feb. 15, 2018. VOA

Google Photos on Monday launched its “Express” back-up feature for users in India. The feature will be available to a small percentage of Google Photos users on Android.

It allows faster back up at reduced resolutions, making it easier to store pictures even with poor or infrequent Wi-Fi availability, the company wrote in a blog post.

“We learned that over a third of the people using Google Photos in India have some photos that hadn’t been backed up in over a month. We want to make sure that our app meets the unique needs of people wherever they are,” the post said.

Google on an Android device. Pixabay

“You will still have the option to choose from the existing back-up options: Original Quality and High Quality,” the post said.

In addition to “Express”, Google will also introduce a new “Data Cap” option for back up to give users more granular daily controls for using cellular data to back up.

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The company is slowly releasing the “Express” back-up feature for Google Photos in others countries as well, the post added.

Launched in May 2015, Google Photos is a photo sharing and storage service developed by the search-engine giant that gives users free, unlimited storage for their photos. (IANS)