Evaluating Speech-in-Speech Perception via a Humanoid Robot

Luke Meyer, Gloria Araiza-Illan, Laura Rachman, Etienne Gaudrain, Deniz Baskent
Electrical Engineering and Systems Science, Audio and Speech Processing, Audio and Speech Processing (eess.AS), Robotics (cs.RO), Sound (cs.SD)
2023-12-19 00:00:00
Underlying mechanisms of speech perception masked by background speakers, a common daily listening condition, are often investigated using various and lengthy psychophysical tests. The presence of a social agent, such as an interactive humanoid NAO robot, may help maintain engagement and attention. However, such robots potentially have limited sound quality or processing speed. As a first step towards the use of NAO in psychophysical testing of speech-in-speech perception, we compared normal-hearing young adults' performance when using the standard computer interface to that when using a NAO robot to introduce the test and present all corresponding stimuli. Target sentences were presented with colour and number keywords in the presence of competing masker speech at varying target-to-masker ratios. Sentences were produced by the same speaker, but voice differences between the target and masker were introduced using speech synthesis methods. To assess test performance, speech intelligibility and data collection duration were compared between the computer and NAO setups. Human-robot interaction was assessed using the Negative Attitude Towards Robot Scale (NARS) and quantification of behavioural cues (backchannels). Speech intelligibility results showed functional similarity between the computer and NAO setups. Data collection durations were longer when using NAO. NARS results showed participants had a more positive attitude toward robots prior to their interaction with NAO. The presence of more positive backchannels when using NAO suggest higher engagement with the robot in comparison to the computer. Overall, the study presents the potential of the NAO for presentingspeech materials and collecting psychophysical measurements for speech-in-speech perception.
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