Page last updated at 12:27 GMT, Wednesday, 22 April 2009 13:27 UK

Multilingual lip-reading system


The lip-reading programme analyses the shape of the speaker's mouth

Lip-reading computers which can distinguish between different languages have been created by scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Scientists at the Norfolk university said the discovery could be used by deaf people and in noisy environments.

Computers that can lip read are already in development but the team says it is the first time they have been "taught" to recognise different languages.

The system was developed by statistical modelling of lip motions.

A group of 23 bilingual and trilingual speakers was used for the modelling.

'Exciting advance'

The technology can identify which language is spoken by an individual with "very high accuracy".

Languages include English, French, German, Arabic, Mandarin, Cantonese, Italian, Polish and Russian.

Professor Stephen Cox, from the UEA's school of computing sciences, said: "This is an exciting advance in automatic lip-reading technology.

"(It is) the first scientific confirmation of something we already intuitively suspected, that when people speak different languages they use different mouth shapes in different sequences.

"For example, we found frequent 'lip-rounding' among French speakers and more prominent tongue movements among Arabic speakers."

Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the research is part of a wider UEA project on automatic lip-reading.

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