Real-time adaptive noise cancellation for automatic speech recognition in a car environment : a thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Engineering at Massey University, School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, Auckland, New Zealand

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Massey University
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This research is mainly concerned with a robust method for improving the performance of a real-time speech enhancement and noise cancellation for Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) in a real-time environment. Therefore, the thesis titled, “Real-time adaptive beamformer for Automatic speech Recognition in a car environment” presents an application technique of a beamforming method and Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) method. In this thesis, a novel solution is presented to the question as below, namely: How can the driver’s voice control the car using ASR? The solution in this thesis is an ASR using a hybrid system with acoustic beamforming Voice Activity Detector (VAD) and an Adaptive Wiener Filter. The beamforming approach is based on a fundamental theory of normalized least-mean squares (NLMS) to improve Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR). The microphone has been implemented with a Voice Activity Detector (VAD) which uses time-delay estimation together with magnitude-squared coherence (MSC). An experiment clearly shows the ability of the composite system to reduce noise outside of a defined active zone. In real-time environments a speech recognition system in a car has to receive the driver’s voice only whilst suppressing background noise e.g. voice from radio. Therefore, this research presents a hybrid real-time adaptive filter which operates within a geometrical zone defined around the head of the desired speaker. Any sound outside of this zone is considered to be noise and suppressed. As this defined geometrical zone is small, it is assumed that only driver's speech is incoming from this zone. The technique uses three microphones to define a geometric based voice-activity detector (VAD) to cancel the unwanted speech coming from outside of the zone. In the case of a sole unwanted speech incoming from outside of a desired zone, this speech is muted at the output of the hybrid noise canceller. In case of an unwanted speech and a desired speech are incoming at the same time, the proposed VAD fails to identify the unwanted speech or desired speech. In such a situation an adaptive Wiener filter is switched on for noise reduction, where the SNR is improved by as much as 28dB. In order to identify the signal quality of the filtered signal from Wiener filter, a template matching speech recognition system that uses a Wiener filter is designed for testing. In this thesis, a commercial speech recognition system is also applied to test the proposed beamforming based noise cancellation and the adaptive Wiener filter.
Automatic speech recognition, Beamforming, Adaptive filters, Automobiles, Electronic equipment, Computer engineering