A sensor that attaches to the skin that can accurately recognize the human voice by detecting vibrations on the skin of the neck is demonstrated in Nature Communications this week. As demonstrated in a series of proof-of-principle tests, the device has potential applications in voice-recognition security systems and in monitoring vocal health.
Skin-attachable vibration sensors that detect human voices have the potential to compete with existing speech recognition technologies. Despite advantages, such as being able to detect voices in noisy or windy environments, current skin-attachable sensors have performance limitations that hinder their use. These include inconsistencies in their sensitivity over the entire range of vocal frequencies.
Kilwon Cho and colleagues devised an approach for fabricating flexible, skin-attachable sensors capable of accurate voice detection. Their design minimized damping (a reduction in the amplitude of the vibrations) and allowed for accurate detection of skin acceleration - a measurement that directly correlates with voice pressure (vocal patterns and volume). The authors found that their ultrathin skin-conformable electronic device was able to accurately detect voices with high sensitivity over the entire frequency range of the human voice.
In tests using their device as part of a voice-recognition security system for entry to a room, the authors found that their system was capable of recognizing the correct user’s voice even when another user uttered the password. The system was also capable of recognizing the correct user’s voice clearly when they wore a face mask.
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