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Chapter Two. Technology Primer: About Sp... > When the Recognizer Listens

When the Recognizer Listens

It's not only what the recognizer hears that can pose a challenge, it's also when it listens. Computers—like people—need to know when to start listening and when to stop listening.

Have you ever had someone start talking to you when you were deep in thought? You probably missed some of what they initially said. That's because you weren't prepared to start listening. Likewise, sometimes when you cut off someone who is speaking before he or she finishes a thought, you might miss some important piece of information. Sensing when to start and stop talking in a conversation is easy for most of us. But it's more difficult for computers because lots of things can sound like speech to them. To a computer, any sound—a cough, music playing, a slamming door, a crying baby—could be someone trying to communicate with it. It's only after analyzing the sound that the computer can determine whether or not it was speech.


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