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Mobile Phones Learn to Lip Read

By BBC News

March 12, 2010

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Karlsruhe Institute of Technology professor Tanja Shultz demonstrated a prototype device for communicating without speaking at the recent CeBIT conference. The technology uses electromyography to detect the electrical signals muscles produce when someone speaks, which also is a technique commonly used to diagnose certain diseases.

For the prototype, nine electrodes are attached to a user's face. "These capture the electrical potentials that result from you moving your articulatory muscles," Shultz says. The technology passes the electrical pulses to a device that records and amplifies them, and transmits the signal via Bluetooth to a laptop, where software translates the signals into text that can be spoken by a synthesizer.

Shultz says the technology could be used by people who have lost their voice, or could support an instant translation system. Also, by integrating the lip-reading technology into mobile phones, commuters would be able to engage in silent phone conversations, Shultz says.

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