MIT develops a speech recognition chip that uses a fraction of the power of existing technologies

MIT announced today that it’s developed a speech recognition chip capable of real world power savings of between 90 and 99 percent over existing technologies. Voice technology has, of course, become nearly ubiquitous in mobile devices, thanks to the exponential growth of smart assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google Home – but the new chip could help branch out in much simpler electronics.

The team is IoT devices a potential case use – devices designed to go months on end without charging or changing batteries. Here’s MIT professor Anantha Chandrakasan on the chip,

Speech input will become a natural interface for many wearable applications and intelligent devices. The miniaturization of these devices will require a different interface than touch or keyboard. It will be critical to embed the speech functionality locally to save system energy consumption compared to performing this operation in the cloud.

The technology features a “voice activity detection” circuit capable of distinguishing ambient noise from speech, turning on on-board speech recognition hardware when it detects the latter. That way it can operate in extremely low-power mode most of the time, making it ideal for technologies like wearable devices, which can benefit from speech control, but are required to last much longer on a single charge than a standard handset.

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