People with hearing or speaking disabilities are deprived of the benefits of conventional speech recognition technology because it is based on acoustic signals. Recent research has focused on silent speech recognition systems that are based on the motions of a speaker’s vocal tract and articulators. Because most silent speech recognition systems use contact sensors that are very inconvenient to users or optical systems that are susceptible to environmental interference, a contactless and robust solution is hence required. Toward this objective, this paper presents a series of signal processing algorithms for a contactless silent speech recognition system using an impulse radio ultra-wide band (IR-UWB) radar. The IR-UWB radar is used to remotely and wirelessly detect motions of the lips and jaw. In order to extract the necessary features of lip and jaw motions from the received radar signals, we propose a feature extraction algorithm. The proposed algorithm noticeably improved speech recognition performance compared to the existing algorithm during our word recognition test with five speakers. We also propose a speech activity detection algorithm to automatically select speech segments from continuous input signals. Thus, speech recognition processing is performed only when speech segments are detected. Our testbed consists of commercial off-the-shelf radar products, and the proposed algorithms are readily applicable without designing specialized radar hardware for silent speech processing.
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