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Proceedings Paper

Hands-free device control using sound picked up in the ear canal
Author(s): Siddharth R. Chhatpar; Lester Ngia; Chris Vlach; Dong Lin; Craig Birkhimer; Amit Juneja; Tarun Pruthi; Orin Hoffman; Tristan Lewis
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Paper Abstract

Hands-free control of unmanned ground vehicles is essential for soldiers, bomb disposal squads, and first responders. Having their hands free for other equipment and tasks allows them to be safer and more mobile. Currently, the most successful hands-free control devices are speech-command based. However, these devices use external microphones, and in field environments, e.g., war zones and fire sites, their performance suffers because of loud ambient noise: typically above 90dBA. This paper describes the development of technology using the ear as an output source that can provide excellent command recognition accuracy even in noisy environments. Instead of picking up speech radiating from the mouth, this technology detects speech transmitted internally through the ear canal. Discreet tongue movements also create air pressure changes within the ear canal, and can be used for stealth control. A patented earpiece was developed with a microphone pointed into the ear canal that captures these signals generated by tongue movements and speech. The signals are transmitted from the earpiece to an Ultra-Mobile Personal Computer (UMPC) through a wired connection. The UMPC processes the signals and utilizes them for device control. The processing can include command recognition, ambient noise cancellation, acoustic echo cancellation, and speech equalization. Successful control of an iRobot PackBot has been demonstrated with both speech (13 discrete commands) and tongue (5 discrete commands) signals. In preliminary tests, command recognition accuracy was 95% with speech control and 85% with tongue control.

Paper Details

Date Published: 29 April 2008
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 6962, Unmanned Systems Technology X, 696210 (29 April 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.777877
Show Author Affiliations
Siddharth R. Chhatpar, Think-A-Move, Ltd. (United States)
Lester Ngia, Think-A-Move, Ltd. (United States)
Chris Vlach, Think-A-Move, Ltd. (United States)
Dong Lin, Think-A-Move, Ltd. (United States)
Craig Birkhimer, Think-A-Move, Ltd. (United States)
Amit Juneja, Think-A-Move, Ltd. (United States)
Tarun Pruthi, Think-A-Move, Ltd. (United States)
Orin Hoffman, iRobot Corp. (United States)
Tristan Lewis, iRobot Corp. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6962:
Unmanned Systems Technology X
Grant R. Gerhart; Douglas W. Gage; Charles M. Shoemaker, Editor(s)

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