Imagine speaking silently to a computer and having the words come up on the screen – no more touch-typing. This dream of the future could soon become reality thanks to RMIT University graduate Wai Chee Yau, who investigated computer-based lip-reading as part of her PhD.
Dr Yau, of Carlton, who completed her PhD in Biomedical, Telecommunication and Electronic Engineering, said this type of communication was more efficient than talking to computers as it took out any problems caused by background noise. Its potential uses include car radio control, defence applications, speech control in noisy environments and computer use for disabled people.
“As part of my PhD I developed a computer-based lip-reading technique that recognizes utterances using video recordings, without evaluating the sound signals,” Dr Yau said.
“With the help of my senior supervisor, Associate Professor Dinesh Kant Kumar, I developed a prototype lip-reading system to classify speech based on images and mouth movement recorded using an inexpensive webcam. I have tested the proposed system using a set of English speech sounds and
obtained promising performance.”
Originally from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, she has published her research in one book chapter, three journal papers and a number of conference papers. Dr Yau spent part of the second year of her studies at BA-University, Germany for a research placement. She was also one of the 2007 Australia and New Zealand Google Anita Borg’s Scholarship finalists and established an RMIT chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc’s Women-in-engineering group to encourage more
women and girls to study engineering.
“The experience of going through a PhD was very rewarding for me,” she said. “I learnt to conduct research independently and to critically review the current state of the art techniques. RMIT was a very encouraging and supportive environment for research students.”
More than 5,000 graduates will celebrate their achievements at RMIT’s Graduation Ceremony at Telstra Dome on Wednesday, 17 December 2008.