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Automatic Speech Recognition: Types and Examples

  • Yashoda Gandhi
  • Mar 02, 2022
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Voice assistants such as Google Home, Amazon Echo, Siri, Cortana, and others have become increasingly popular in recent years. These are some of the most well-known examples of automatic speech recognition (ASR). 


This type of app starts with a clip of spoken audio in a specific language and converts the words spoken into text. As a result, they're also called Speech-to-Text algorithms.


Apps like Siri and the others mentioned above, of course, go even further. They not only extract the text but also interpret and comprehend the semantic meaning of what was said, allowing them to respond to the user's commands with answers or actions.



Automatic Speech Recognition


ASR (Automated speech recognition) is a technology that allows users to enter data into information systems by speaking rather than punching numbers into a keypad. ASR is primarily used for providing information and forwarding phone calls.


In recent years, ASR has grown in popularity among large corporation customer service departments. It is also used by some government agencies and other organizations. Basic ASR systems recognize single-word entries such as yes-or-no responses and spoken numerals. 


This enables users to navigate through automated menus without having to manually enter dozens of numerals with no margin for error. In a manual-entry situation, a customer may press the wrong key after entering 20 or 30 numerals at random intervals in the menu and abandon the call rather than call back and start over. This issue is virtually eliminated with ASR.


Natural Language Processing, or NLP for short, is at the heart of the most advanced version of currently available ASR technologies. Though this variant of ASR is still a long way from realizing its full potential, we're already seeing some impressive results in the form of intelligent smartphone interfaces like Apple's Siri and other systems used in business and advanced technology.


Even with a "accuracy" of 96 to 99 percent, these NLP programs can only achieve these kinds of results under ideal circumstances, such as when humans ask them simple yes or no questions with a small number of possible responses based on selected keywords.


Also Read | A Step Towards Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI)



How to carry out Automatic Speech Recognition?


We’ve listed three significant ways for automatic speech recognition. 


  1. Old fashioned way


With ARPA funding in the 1970s, a team at Carnegie Melon University developed technology that could generate transcripts from context-specific speech, such as voice-controlled chess, chart-plotting for GIS and navigation, and document management in the office environment.


These types of products had one major flaw: they could only reliably convert speech to text for one person at a time. This is due to the fact that no two people speak in the same way. In fact, even if the same person speaks the same sentence twice, the sounds are mathematically different when recorded and measured!


Two mathematical realities for silicon brains, the same word to our human, meat-based brains! These ASR-based, personal transcription tools and products were revolutionary and had legitimate business uses, despite their inability to transcribe the utterances of multiple speakers.


  1. Frankenstein approach


In the mid-2000s, companies like Nuance, Google, and Amazon realized that by making ASR work for multiple speakers and in noisy environments, they could improve on the 1970s approach.


Rather than having to train ASR to understand a single speaker, these Franken-ASRs were able to understand multiple speakers fairly well, which is an impressive feat given the acoustic and mathematical realities of spoken language. This is possible because these neural-network algorithms can "learn on their own" when given certain stimuli.


However, slapping a neural network on top of older machinery (remember, this is based on 1970s techniques) results in bulky, complex, and resource-hungry machines like Back-to-the-DeLorean Future's or my college bicycle: a franken-bike that worked when the tides and winds were just right, usually except when it didn't.


While clumsy, the mid-2000s hybrid approach to ASR works well enough for some applications; after all, Siri isn't supposed to answer any real-world data questions.


  1. End to end Deep Learning


The most recent method, end-to-end deep learning ASR, makes use of neural networks and replaces the clumsy 1970s method. In essence, this new approach allows you to do something that was unthinkable even two years ago: train the ASR to recognize dialects, accents, and industry-specific word sets quickly and accurately.


It's a Mr. Fusion bicycle, complete with rusted bike frames and ill-fated auto brands. Several factors contribute to this, including breakthrough math from the 1980s, computing power/technology from the mid-2010s, big data, and the ability to innovate quickly.


It's crucial to be able to experiment with new architectures, technologies, and approaches. Legacy ASR systems based on the franken-ASR hybrid are designed to handle "general" audio rather than specialized audio for industry, business, or even academic purposes.To put it another way, they provide generalized speech recognition and cannot realistically be trained to improve your speech data.


Also Read | Speech Analytics


Types of ASR


The two main types of Automatic Speech Recognition software variants are directed dialogue conversations and natural language conversations. 


  1. Detecting a direct dialogue speech


Directed Dialogue conversations are a much less complicated version of ASR at work, consisting of machine interfaces that instruct you to respond verbally with a specific word from a limited list of options, forming their response to your narrowly defined request. Directed conversation Automated telephone banking and other customer service interfaces frequently use ASR software.


  1. Analyze natural language conversation


Natural Language Conversations (the NLP we discussed in the introduction) are more advanced versions of ASR that attempt to simulate real conversation by allowing you to use an open-ended chat format with them rather than a severely limited menu of words. One of the most advanced examples of these systems is the Siri interface on the iPhone.



Applications of ASR


Where continuous conversations must be tracked or recorded word for word, ASR is used in a variety of industries, including higher education, legal, finance, government, health care, and the media.


  1. In legal proceedings, it's critical to record every word, and court reporters are in short supply right now. ASR technology has several advantages, including digital transcription and scalability.


  1. ASR can be used by universities to provide captions and transcriptions in the classroom for students with hearing loss or other disabilities. It can also benefit non-native English speakers, commuters, and students with a variety of learning needs.


  1. ASR is used by doctors to transcribe notes from patient meetings or to document surgical procedures.


  1. Media companies can use ASR to provide live captions and media transcription for all of their productions.


  1. Businesses use ASR for captioning and transcription to make training materials more accessible and to create more inclusive workplaces.


Also Read | Hyper Automation



Advantages of ASR over Traditional Transcriptions


We’ve listed some advantages of ASR over Traditional Transcriptions below :


  1. ASR machines can help improve caption and transcription efficiencies, in addition to the growing shortage of skilled traditional transcribers.


  1. In conversations, lectures, meetings, and proceedings, the technology can distinguish between voices, allowing you to figure out who said what and when.


  1. Because disruptions among participants are common in these conversations with multiple stakeholders, the ability to distinguish between speakers can be very useful.


  1. Users can train the ASR machine by uploading hundreds of related documents, such as books, articles, and other materials.


  1. The technology can absorb this vast amount of data faster than a human, allowing it to recognize different accents, dialects, and terminology with greater accuracy.


  1. Of course, in order to achieve the near-perfect accuracy required, the ideal format would involve using human intelligence to fact-check the artificial intelligence that is being used.


  1. Automatic Speech Recognition Systems (ASRs) can convert spoken words into understandable text.


  1. Its application to air traffic control and automated car environments has been studied due to its ability to convert speech in real-time.


  1. The Hidden Markov model is used in feature extraction by the ASR system for air traffic control, and its phraseology is based on the commands used in air applications.


  1. Speech recognition is used in the car environment for route navigation applications.


Also Read | Artificial Intelligence vs Human Intelligence


Automatic Speech Recognition vs Voice Recognition


The difference between Voice Recognition and Automatic Speech Recognition (the technical term for AI speech recognition, or ASR) is how they process and respond to audio.


 You'll be able to use voice recognition with devices like Amazon Alexa or Google Dot. It listens to your voice and responds in real-time. Most digital assistants use voice recognition, which has limited functionality and is usually limited to the task at hand.


ASR differs from other voice recognition systems in that it recognizes speech rather than voices. It can accurately generate an audio transcript using NLP, resulting in real-time captioning. ASR isn't perfect; in fact, even under ideal conditions, it rarely exceeds 90%-95 percent accuracy. However, it compensates for this by being quick and inexpensive.


In essence, ASR is a transcription of what someone said, whereas Voice Recognition is a transcription of who said it. Both processes are inextricably linked, and they are frequently used interchangeably. The distinctions are subtle but noticeable.

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