SFI’s Insight and Xperi look to improve audio in streaming services

16 Dec 2022

Image: © Anton/Stock.adobe.com

The research will explore the factors that can impact the streaming experience, while creating new tech to quantify how people perceive audio and speech quality.

Insight, the Science Foundation Ireland research centre for data analytics, is leading two new collaborations with US tech company Xperi.

The research will explore why there seems to be a decrease in streaming content audio quality, which has resulted in more viewers using closed captioning or subtitles.

The new projects stem from the strategic partnership Insight formed with Xperi in 2020 as part of a broader push to link scientists and engineers across academia and industry.

The collaboration is being led by Insight’s Dr Andrew Hines, who is based at University College Dublin. Hines plans to use machine learning to create technology that can understand, measure and quantify how people perceive audio and speech quality.

Meanwhile, Dr Martin Walsh, vice-president of R&D in Xperi’s DTS business, will examine the consumer’s quality of experience of streamed content, with a focus on audio and dialogue perception and ease of comprehension.

This research aims to find the factors that can significantly reduce quality of the streaming experience, along with ways to fix these issues.

“We are excited to be working together with Xperi Inc on two projects that will change how we experience audio ranging from streaming movies to understanding computer-generated synthetic speech,” Hines said.

The new collaboration will support a one-year postdoctoral research fellowship, as well as a four-year PhD programme.

Three men stand for a photo.

From left: Dr Martin Walsh, Dr Andrew Hines and Dr Pertronel Bigoi. Image: Insight

“Xperi’s vision is to create extraordinary experiences for consumers, whether at home, on mobile or in the car,” said Xperi CTO Dr Petronel Bigioi.

“In order to create and deliver these extraordinary experiences, we must first understand what the problems are that a consumer is facing so that we may address their core needs.”

Walsh’s project is set to conclude next year, at which time his team will present their discoveries and potential solutions. Insight said further research will look to devise a set of “perceptual descriptors” and aspects of synthesised speech quality.

The Insight research centre has been involved in multiple collaborative projects this year. It became a core partner of the Data Spaces Support Centre, a European initiative that aims to create the right conditions for an open data ecosystem.

In September, Insight invested in new collaborations with Ireland’s institutes of technology and technological universities, funding seven data projects from a total pot of €350,000.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic