Unlocking the secrets of NEC's "EuphoMagic" acoustic signal processing technologies, which make conversation easy and dramatically improve voice recognition rates even in noisy environments
- MiyaharaThe top microphone actually plays a key role in this. You see, it is further from the speaker's mouth compared to the mouthpiece microphone. That means it is safe to assume that sound picked up by the top microphone is noise. In other words, we estimate how much noise is likely being picked up by the mouthpiece microphone based on the noise picked up by the top microphone. Clear audio can be produced by cutting an equal amount of noise. This makes it possible to deliver audio with little noise to the person on the other end of the call.
- MitaDoes that mean it's more difficult to reduce noise when there is only one microphone?
- MiyaharaThat's right. There are noise suppressors, which reduce noise using a single microphone, but it is harder to differentiate between necessary and unwanted audio compared with noise cancellers that use two microphones. That said, it isn't possible to completely eliminate noise using only a noise canceller, so combining these two technologies produces clearer audio in most cases.
- MitaI see. So you reduce noise more efficiently by combining a variety of technologies.
- MiyaharaThe dual microphone method for reducing noise is something that other companies also use. However, we are confident that we stand out from the rest when it comes to fine-tuning the elimination of noise in different situations and controlling this process, cutting unwanted noise while maintaining high quality for audio that must be communicated. For your information, our technology is also incorporated in the digital voice recorder you are using now.
- MitaHuh? But this is an Olympus brand digital voice recorder. Are you telling me this contains NEC technology as well?
- MiyaharaCorrect. It incorporates EuphoMagic technology for reducing noise.
- MitaI'd never have guessed! It occurred to me that my digital audio recorder was picking up sound a lot clearer these days. I guess I have EuphoMagic to thank for that!
- MiyaharaIncidentally, NEC has also developed it's own proprietary technologies.
- MitaWhat sort of technologies?
- MiyaharaFirst of all, technology for suppressing mechanical sounds. For example, most recent digital cameras can shoot video as well as still images, right? But when you use the camera's zoom function while shooting video, the mechanical sounds produced when the lens moves are also recorded. EuphoMagic can suppress these mechanical sounds. This technology has been implemented in Casio digital cameras.
- MitaI never gave much thought to it while recording video, but technology for reducing noise is used for things like that, too, huh?
- MiyaharaWe also have world-leading technology for reducing wind noise.
- MitaWind noise?
- MiyaharaThat's right. People also talk on mobile phones outside. For example, when making a call on a city street or by the riverside, the sound of the wind is picked up, making it harder for the other person to hear what it being said. Our technology suppresses this wind noise.
- MitaWow, that's very helpful!
- MiyaharaTechnology for suppressing wind noise is not actually a new thing. However, in most cases conventional methods involved suppressing all sound in the frequency range that wind noise tends to be concentrated, so all other sound at that frequency was also diminished. In contrast, our technology can estimate what is wind noise and lower only that sound. In other words, this makes it possible to reduce only sounds likely to be caused by wind from the whole range of audio heard.
- MitaSo does that mean you can hold a natural conversation even when it's windy?
- MiyaharaExactly. It suppresses wind noise and enables calls to be made with high-quality audio. Why don't you listen for yourself? (He gets out a smartphone and puts headphones on Ms. Mita). I'll talk while directing wind at the microphone using this fan. You'll be able to hear me through the headphones, so imagine you're listening to someone you're talking on the phone with. We'll start with raw audio that has not been processed at all.
- MitaThe wind is so loud that I have no idea what you're saying.
- MiyaharaNow let's suppress the wind noise. Here goes. Can you hear my voice?
- MitaThe wind noise has completely disappeared, and I can hear your voice clearly! If it'll make that big a difference, I want that technology in my smartphone right now.
- MiyaharaI'm glad it left an impression on you. By the way, this technology can also be applied to a variety of other devices, such as video cameras and voice recorders.
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