View publication

When interacting with smart devices such as mobile phones or wearables, the user typically invokes a virtual assistant (VA) by saying a keyword or by pressing a button on the device. However, in many cases, the VA can accidentally be invoked by the keyword-like speech or accidental button press, which may have implications on user experience and privacy. To this end, we propose an acoustic false-trigger-mitigation (FTM) approach for on-device device-directed speech detection that simultaneously handles the voice-trigger and touch-based invocation. To facilitate the model deployment on-device, we introduce a new streaming decision layer, derived using the notion of temporal convolutional networks (TCN), known for their computational efficiency. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first approach that can detect device-directed speech from more than one invocation type in a streaming fashion. We compare this approach with streaming alternatives based on vanilla Average layer, and canonical LSTMs, and show: (i) that all the models show only a small degradation in accuracy compared with the invocation-specific models, and (ii) that the newly introduced streaming TCN consistently performs better or comparable with the alternatives, while mitigating device undirected speech faster in time, and with (relative) reduction in runtime peak-memory over the LSTM-based approach of 33% vs. 7%, when compared to a non-streaming counterpart.

*=Equal Contributors

Related readings and updates.


Apple sponsored the 45th International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing (ICASSP) in May 2020. With a focus on signal processing and its applications, the conference took place virtually from May 4 - 8. Read Apple’s accepted papers below.

See event details

Optimizing Siri on HomePod in Far‑Field Settings

The typical audio environment for HomePod has many challenges — echo, reverberation, and noise. Unlike Siri on iPhone, which operates close to the user’s mouth, Siri on HomePod must work well in a far-field setting. Users want to invoke Siri from many locations, like the couch or the kitchen, without regard to where HomePod sits. A complete online system, which addresses all of the environmental issues that HomePod can experience, requires a tight integration of various multichannel signal processing technologies. Accordingly, the Audio Software Engineering and Siri Speech teams built a system that integrates both supervised deep learning models and unsupervised online learning algorithms and that leverages multiple microphone signals. The system selects the optimal audio stream for the speech recognizer by using top-down knowledge from the “Hey Siri” trigger phrase detectors. In this article, we discuss the machine learning techniques we use for online signal processing, as well as the challenges we faced and our solutions for achieving environmental and algorithmic robustness while ensuring energy efficiency.

See article details