A real-time phoneme counting algorithm and application for speech rate monitoring

Publication Type:

Journal Article

Source:

Journal of Fluency Disorders, Volume 51, p.60 - 68 (2017)

URL:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0094730X16300389

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jfludis.2017.01.001

Keywords:

Smartphone application, Speaking rate computation, Spectral transition measure, Stuttering therapy

Abstract:

Abstract

Adults who stutter can learn to control and improve their speech fluency by modifying their speaking rate. Existing speech therapy technologies can assist this practice by monitoring speaking rate and providing feedback to the patient, but cannot provide an accurate, quantitative measurement of speaking rate. Moreover, most technologies are too complex and costly to be used for home practice. We developed an algorithm and a smartphone application that monitor a patient’s speaking rate in real time and provide user-friendly feedback to both patient and therapist. Our speaking rate computation is performed by a phoneme counting algorithm which implements spectral transition measure extraction to estimate phoneme boundaries. The algorithm is implemented in real time in a mobile application that presents its results in a user-friendly interface. The application incorporates two modes: one provides the patient with visual feedback of his/her speech rate for self-practice and another provides the speech therapist with recordings, speech rate analysis and tools to manage the patient’s practice. The algorithm’s phoneme counting accuracy was validated on ten healthy subjects who read a paragraph at slow, normal and fast paces, and was compared to manual counting of speech experts. Test-retest and intra-counter reliability were assessed. Preliminary results indicate differences of −4% to 11% between automatic and human phoneme counting. Differences were largest for slow speech. The application can thus provide reliable, user-friendly, real-time feedback for speaking rate control practice.