New Lip-Reading Cell Phone System Can Allow for Silent Conversations

By Smriti Rao | March 5, 2010 10:36 am

_47413024_-311The next time you come across a loudmouth yammering away into a cell phone at top volume, be comforted by the fact that researchers are working on a mobile phone that could put an end to “volume-control challenged” people. The lip-reading phone would allow people to silently mouth their words–but the electrode-heavy prototype seems unlikely to catch on anytime soon.

The BBC reports:

The device, on show at the Cebit electronics fair in Germany, relies on a technique called electromyography which detects the electrical signals from muscles. It is commonly used to diagnose certain diseases, including those that involve nerve damage.

Professor Tanja Shultz of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany explained that the device requires attaching nine sensors to the face. As the user mouths words, the electrodes capture the electric impulses created by the muscle movement. These impulses are transferred to a device that records and amplifies them, before passing them onto a laptop via wireless. Software in the laptop translates the signals, converting them into words which can then be read out by a synthesizer in handset and sent over the wire to the person on the other end of the phone call.

The whole process is pretty cumbersome and the creators agree that this phone might not be meant for the mass market. But Shultz says all this tech could one day be packed into a mobile phone. The device could also be a a good option for people who have lost the ability to speak, putting in their hands a device that can allow them communicate clearly. The phone also has a translation option, wherein a person can speak in their mother tongue and have the text communicated in English or any other language.

The BBC’s report points out that this is not the first time that this technology for silent communication has been used.

The US space agency Nasa has investigated the technique for communicating in noisy environments such as the Space Station. It has also used the technique to explore advanced flight control systems that do away with joysticks and other interfaces.

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Image: BBC/ Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
  • jason

    wow this article is very interesting. Its amazing what our technology can do these days.

  • Best Mobiles

    The technology is really interesting. It might not be for mass market but the translation option can be provided to all the mobile phone customers as it has a great potential to attract people and it will bring ease for the cell phone users. I hope this technology comes in the market soon.

  • Jacob

    Amazing. Very interesting article. I can’t imagine what technology could give us 100 years from now. New devices are always developed that are somehow beyond our expectations.

  • Henry Newmyer

    Here’s my problem, I am in a bit of trouble, I have had my iphone 3G for the past couple of years and it’s been great. It is my understanding that Apple has a new update due out called OS 4 and it’s supposed to be adding some new bells & whistles to the iPhone 3G. I actually just bought Verizon’s new HTC Incredible the HTC Incredible and it’s an awesome phone, far superior to the iphone 3gs, BUT I’m hearing that Apple is supposed to be coming out with a completely redesigned new iphone altogether, and it’s supposed to be really nice but no one has any ideas as to when and Apple isn’t saying a thing. Should I keep my HTC Incredible, that I have 30 days to test and send it back if I don’t want to keep it, or should I give it back, keep my current iPhone 3G and wait for the release of the new iPhone- tough to make up my mind.

  • Anonymous

    wow   this sounds wonderful and it can make the people who can’t speak communicate with others…


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