Backward Compatible Spatialised Teleconferencing based on Squeezed Recordings

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Advances in Sound Localization, 2011, pp. 363 - 384
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Commercial teleconferencing systems currently available, although offering sophisticated video stimulus of the remote participants, commonly employ only mono or stereo audio playback for the user. However, in teleconferencing applications where there are multiple participants at multiple sites, spatializing the audio reproduced at each site (using headphones or loudspeakers) to assist listeners to distinguish between participating speakers can significantly improve the meeting experience (Baldis, 2001; Evans et al., 2000; Ward & Elko 1999; Kilgore et al., 2003; Wrigley et al., 2009; James & Hawksford, 2008). An example is Vocal Village (Kilgore et al., 2003), which uses online avatars to co-locate remote participants over the Internet in virtual space with audio spatialized over headphones (Kilgore, et al., 2003). This system adds speaker location cues to monaural speech to create a user manipulable soundfield that matches the avatar’s position in the virtual space. Giving participants the freedom to manipulate the acoustic location of other participants in the rendered sound scene that they experience has been shown to provide for improved multitasking performance (Wrigley et al., 2009). A system for multiparty teleconferencing requires firstly a stage for recording speech from multiple participants at each site. These signals then need to be compressed to allow for efficient transmission of the spatial speech. One approach is to utilise close-talking microphones to record each participant (e.g. lapel microphones), and then encode each speech signal separately prior to transmission (James & Hawksford, 2008). Alternatively, for increased flexibility, a microphone array located at a central point on, say, a meeting table can be used to generate a multichannel recording of the meeting speech A microphone array approach is adopted in this work and allows for processing of the recordings to identify relative spatial locations of the sources as well as multichannel speech enhancement techniques to improve the quality of recordings in noisy environments. For efficient transmission of the recorded signals, the approach also requires a multichannel compression technique suitable to spatially recorded speech signals.
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