Lip reading mobile phone anyone?

5 March 2010


Some people are idiots. I should know - I'm one of them. However, I'm not so dim that I can't see the problem with yattering on a mobile phone rather loudly whilst sat on a train or bus. If thoughts could kill, then noisy phone talkers would probably be killed enough to last a thousand lifetimes.

However, some gizmo-developers have been horsing around with technological thingummyjiggery which could see the end of the hooting commuter (provided they're smart enough to realise that they're irritating in the first place).

A prototype device is being developed which could see people being able to conduct silent phone conversations. How? Well, the technology measures and tracks the tiny electrical signals produced by muscles used when someone speaks. The device can record these pulses even when a person does not audibly utter any words and use them to generate synthesised speech in another handset. How mental is that? And how feasible is it that it'll actually work, seeing as our technology has great difficult mastering voice commands.

"I was taking the train and the person sitting next to me was constantly chatting and I thought 'I need to change this'," Professor Tanja Shultz of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology told BBC News. "We call it silent communication."

The device is on show at the geekwankfest Cebit electronics fair in Germany and relies on a technique called electromyography which detects the electrical signals from muscles. That shit is usually used to diagnose diseases and what have you.

The prototype uses nine electrodes that are stuck to a user's face which " capture the electrical potentials that result from you moving your articulatory muscles," according to Professor Shultz. "Those are the muscles that you need in order to produce speech." Via Bluetooth, it's all passed to a device which records and amplifies them before transmitting the signal via Bluetooth to a laptop. Then, and here's the best bit, the software translates the signals into text, which can then be spoken by a synthesiser leaving you talking like Stephen Hawkins.

Apparently, NASA have been mucking about with this for years. It's well future. Of course, you could have privacy issues with this, provided of course that someone manages to make a version of it that doesn't require nodes being stuck to someone's chops. Still, if it shuts up fat blokes in ill-fitting suits and students from talking about the shitty house-parties they've been to, I'm all for it.

TOPICS:   Technology   Mobile


  • Lucko
    You know when you're on the phone to someone, and they're going on and on, and you're lip speaking to someone else, telling them that the person on the phone is a douchebag. Yeah... that, may end up being awkward.
  • The B.
    Just get a phone jammer.
  • Nobby
    There was some bitch on the phone near me on a train the other day speaking too loud and way to long, and she was running low on credit so she asked someone to phone her back, giving them the number (out loud). So I wrote it down, put an old sim card in my phone that I keep in my wallet for such situations, set my phone to silent and phoned her number, ending the call just before she answered. Then did it again, and again, and again. Kept me busy for half hour or so. Bitch was well wound up. She kept phoning my number to see who it was, but obviously it was on silent, so she couldn't tell it was me. Then I answered it, but just left it silent so hopefully all her credit got used up. Cheaper than a phone jammer, and just as much fun.

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