Wireless sensor networks are suitable to gain context awareness for indoor environments. As sound waves form a rich source of context information, equipping the nodes with microphones can be of great benefit. The algorithms to extract features from sound waves are often highly computationally intensive. This can be problematic as wireless nodes are usually restricted in resources. In order to be able to make a proper decision about which features to use, we survey how sound is used in the literature for global sound classification, age and gender classification, emotion recognition, person verification and identification and indoor and outdoor environmental sound classification. The results of the surveyed algorithms are compared with respect to accuracy and computational load. The accuracies are taken from the surveyed papers; the computational loads are determined by benchmarking the algorithms on an actual sensor node. We conclude that for indoor context awareness, the low-cost algorithms for feature extraction perform equally well as the more computationally-intensive variants. As the feature extraction still requires a large amount of processing time, we present four possible strategies to deal with this problem.
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