IIT Guwahati Researchers Develop Innovative Speech Reconstruction Device

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Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT Guwahati) have achieved a remarkable feat in speech technology with the invention and patenting of ‘LOQU,’ a device capable of generating human speech signals directly from vocal cord vibration signals.

Revolutionary Technology

Led by Dr. LN Sharma and guided by Prof. Samarendra Dandapat of IIT Guwahati’s Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering, the team developed LOQU, deriving its name from the Latin word for “To speak or talk.” This cutting-edge technology captures vocal fold movement without invasive procedures by employing sensors placed over the throat. This novel approach enables the reconstruction of speech signals from vocal cord vibrations, offering promising prospects for speech-impaired individuals and medical applications.

Speech production originates from airflow from the lungs through the windpipe, facilitated by the larynx or voice box, serving as a conduit between the throat and windpipe. Within the larynx reside the vocal cords or vocal folds, regulated by the glottis, which control airflow between the lungs and mouth. The voice box adjusts the space between vocal folds to create sounds, which traverse the vocal tract, modulating in volume and pitch to produce a voice.

In cases like mutism or apraxia, individuals may experience normal vocal fold vibration without sound production due to coordination issues in tongue or throat muscles crucial for speech. LOQU addresses these challenges by capturing vocal fold vibrations using non-invasive sensors and electronically processing these signals to generate speech harmonics. This method results in speech signals closely resembling traditional speech, as confirmed through comparison tests with signals recorded using conventional microphones.

According to Prof. Dandapat, this breakthrough offers significant promise for individuals with speech impairments by providing clear and comparable speech signals. The device aims to empower those in need and drive impactful innovations in medical and communication spheres. Dr. Sharma further elaborated on the research, highlighting the clarity and comparability of the reconstructed speech signals to traditional speech. Extensive comparison tests have demonstrated the effectiveness of LOQU, offering a viable alternative to conventional microphones and enhancing speech clarity.

The prototype of LOQU has been developed on a laboratory scale at a cost of less than Rs 2000. The patented technology marks a significant milestone in speech research and innovation, with ongoing clinical testing aimed at further validating its effectiveness and exploring diverse applications in medical and communication fields.

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