ALSoundLocalization

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NAOqi Audio - Overview | API


What it does

ALSoundLocalization identifies the direction of any loud enough sound heard by the robot.

Note

This module is the newer version of the former ALAudioSourceLocalization module .

The API has been kept, except for the ‘Sensibility’ parameter (see ALSoundLocalizationProxy::setParameter ) and the event name.

How it works

The sound wave emitted by a source is received at slightly different times on each of the NAO ‘s four microphones, from the closest to the farthest.

These differences, known as TDOA (Time Differences Of Arrival), are related to the current location of the emitting source. By using this relationship, the robot is able to retrieve the direction of the emitting source (azimuthal and elevation angles) from the TDOAs measured on the different microphone pairs.

The sound localization is triggered when a sound is detected, using the algorithm of ALSoundDetection (but the parameters are independent). Each time a sound is detected, its localization is computed and published in the ALMemory event ALSoundLocalization/SoundLocated formated as follows:


            
             [ [time(sec), time(usec)],

  [azimuth(rad), elevation(rad), confidence, energy],

  [Head Position[6D]] in FRAME_TORSO,
  [Head Position[6D]] in FRAME_ROBOT
]

            
           

The event ALSoundLocalization/SoundsLocated raised every 170ms (size of an internal buffer) regroups all sounds localized in that timeframe (if any, otherwise it is not raised). It is formatted as follows:


            
             [ sound_1, ..., sound_n ]

            
           

sound_i following the layout of ALSoundLocalization/SoundLocated .

Performances and Limitations

As NAO and Pepper have their microphones located differently, the specific operating mode, performances and limitation on Pepper are specifically described here.

nao NAO - Performances

The maximum theoretical accuracy is about 10 degrees for Nao. The distance separating the robot and a sound source successfully located can reach several meters depending on the situation (reverberation, background noise, etc...).

nao NAO - Limitations

The performance of the sound source localization engine is limited by how clearly the sound source can be heard with respect to background noise. Noisy or reverberant environments naturally tend to decrease the reliability of the module outputs. It will also detect and locate any loud sounds without being able by itself to filter out sound source that are not humans. Finally, only one sound source can be located at a time. The module can behave in a less reliable manner if the robot faces several loud noises at the same time. It will likely only output the direction of the loudest source.

pepp Pepper - Performances

The angles provided by the sound source localization engine match the real position of the source with an average accuracy of 10 degrees, which is satisfactory for most uses. Note that the maximum theoretical accuracy depends on the microphones spatial configuration and on the sample rate of the measured signal, and is about 7 degrees.

The sound localization has been designed to be robust to reverberation and background noise, and if several sources are emitting sound, it will pick the loudest.

pepp Pepper - Limitations

The performance of the sound source localization engine is limited by how clearly the sound source can be heard with respect to background noise. Noisy environments naturally tend to decrease the reliability of the module outputs. It will also detect and locate any sound without being able by itself to filter out sound source that are not humans. Finally, only one sound source can be located at a time. The module can behave in a less reliable manner if the robot faces several loud noises at the same time. Notice that the confidence indicator will drop in presence of noise, to reflect the loss in reliability.

ALSoundLocalization is not robust if:

  • Signal to Noise Ratio is too weak (generally good at 3dB+)
  • Audio signal saturates (successfully tested at 80 dB / 2m)
  • Person behind the robot (more than 120° from the front)

Getting started

Use the Sound Tracker Choregraphe Box after having set the robot’s stiffness to 1 (to enable head movements).

Use Cases

Here are some possible applications (from the simplest to the more ambitious ones) that can be built from the ability to locate sound sources.

Case 1: Noisy event localization

Using the ALSoundLocalization to have a person enter the camera field of view (as shown in the above example). This allows subsequent vision based features to work on relevant images (images showing a person for example). This is consequently of interest for these specific tasks:

  • Human Detection, Tracking and Recognition
  • Noisy Objects Detection, Tracking and Recognition

Case 2: Sound Source Separation

The localization estimates of ALSoundLocalization can be used to strengthen the Signal/Noise ratio in the corresponding direction - this is known as beamforming - and can critically enhance subsequent audio based algorithms such as speech recognition.

Case 3: Multimodal applications

These possible applications can also be mixed together, making the sound source localization the basic block for sophisticated applications such as:

  • Remote Monitoring / Security applications (the robot could track noises in an empty room, take pictures and record sounds in relevant directions, etc...)
  • Entertainment applications (by knowing who speaks and understanding what is being said, the robot could easily take part in a great variety of games with humans.)