Terminator Tongues - USAF Seeks Voice Transformation Tech

Voice transformation is one part of the Terminator's arsenal that the U.S. Air Force would like to have available. Researchers are being solicited to help ordinary human airmen disguise their voices - even to sound like another person altogether. This could be accomplished with voice transformation algorithms that can also detect transformed voices.

As you may recall, in Terminator 2, the bad-guy shape-shifting T1000 takes over the person of John Connor's foster mother. When John becomes suspicious during a phone conversation with her (it), the good-guy Terminator (Arnold, of course) takes over the conversation, imitating John's spoiled west coast brat voice perfectly.


(The Terminator Voice Transformation)

Here are the requirements, from the official U.S.A.F. solicitation:

The goal of this phase is to research techniques to analyze a person [sic] voice for voice transformation. While voice transformation have [sic] been around for awhile, the ability [sic] to transform a personís voice to a target voice is not yet solved. Parameters such as the speaking rate, stress, and intonation will provide broad parameters for modeling a personís voice. A finer grain analysis of a personís voice may also be performed by de-convolving an audio signal into its glottal pulse and vocal tract information.

Transforming a speaker's voice so it is unrecognizable may be less difficult than you might think. Studies were conducted in 1980 in which subjects were tested on their ability to recognize a group of 53 voices, 29 of which were actually familiar to the listener. In the study, 31% of speakers could be identified with a single word, 66% from a single sentence, but only 83% from a full thirty seconds of speech. So, for some of the time (or for some speakers), voices are just hard to recognize consistently.

Transforming a speaker's voice into a target voice is much more difficult. Some of the difficulties relate to

  • Formant spectra: the coarse structure of the different parts of speech. 'Formant' refers to the regions of concentration of energy, prominent on a sound spectrogram, that collectively constitute the frequency spectrum of a speech sound. This is the most common target of voice transformation algorithms, which work by constructing a map between the formant spectra of the two voices
  • Prosodic features: These are aspects of speech that vary from person to person, like fundamental pitch of the voice, timing - the patterns and rhythms of speech.
  • Mannerisms: This refers to word choices and preferred phrases and other high-level behaviors. For example, some one from New Jersey might imitate the voice of someone from Arkansas perfectly, but still fail to convince a listener owing to a failure to select the right phrases.
Incredibly, the U.S.A.F. is even looking further ahead for different uses for voice transformation technology, including "medical applications if a personís voice box was damaged, in the gaming industry and animated films for creating and modify voices, for voice dubbing of foreign films, and for creating/reducing a personís accent."

You might enjoy these speech-related articles:

Read more at the USAF voice transformation and detection solicitation and at DefenseTech; see also this interesting short article on voice transformation.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/13/2006)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Engineering ")

Implosion Fabrication Shrinks 3D Objects To Nanoscale
'Carter had watched miniaturization a hundred times...' - Isaac Asimov, 1965.

ODYSSEUS Solar-Powered Stratospheric Plane Flies Forever
'The planes flew continuously, twenty-four hours a day...' - EB White, 1950.

Phil Nuyttnn's City Under The Sea
''Under the lower roof there was no water, but a clear and luminous atmosphere...' - Andre Laurie, 1895.

Stick-On Tape Speakers, As Predicted By Bruce Sterling
Flexible tape speakers, someday.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Spicy Tomatoes Created With Genetic Engineering
How about mashed potatoes and brown gravy?

Driverless Hotel Rooms Predicted In 1828
'Did you never see a moving house before?'

Yandex Self-Driving Taxi Is Very Smooth
'The big car was slowing down, its computer brain sensing an exit ahead.'

Shrimp Actually Made Of Algae Is A New Wave Food
Bring in that crop algae.

Cosplay Style Wings Could Work On Moon
'They're lovely! - titanalloy struts as light and strong as bird-bones...'

Tesla Model 3 Has Outside Speaker Grille
Robert Heinlein does it again.

Arizona Luddites Attack Self-Driving Vehicles
'Trucks don't drive by themselves...' Or do they?

Organaut! Russians 3D Print Living Tissue In Space
'For a while your colonists will have to come up [to orbit] to the Hospital...'

WINE Spacecraft To Extract Water From Asteroids
'Yes, strangely enough there was still sufficient water beneath the surface of Vesta.'

Japanese Swordsmiths Take On Asteroids
'... a tiny, rocket-powered projectile, drove towards the mysterious bulk.'

Saturn's Rings To Vanish, Let's Mine Them While We Can
'...the valuable shards of what had once been satellites.'

Humans Could Take Up A LOT Less Space
We'd have a lot more room for gardening...

Implosion Fabrication Shrinks 3D Objects To Nanoscale
'Carter had watched miniaturization a hundred times...'

GMO Houseplant Cleans Your Air
Removes compounds too small to be captured by a HEPA filter.

Nova Meat Can 3D Print Your Dinner
Printing out chicken nuggets.

MIT Scientists Create 'Peek-a-Boo Prober' From Jetsons
Well, George, it's the latest thing.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.