Google Research

A unified endpointer using mutlitask and multidomain training

Proc. ASRU, IEEE (2019)

Abstract

In speech recognition systems, we generally differentiate between long-form speech and voice queries, where endpointers are responsible for speech detection and query endpoint detection respectively. Detection of speech is useful for segmentation and pre-filtering in long-form speech processing. On the other hand, query endpoint detection predicts when to stop listening and send audio received so far for actions. It thus determines system latency and is an essential component for interactive voice systems. For both tasks, endpointer needs to be robust in challenging environments, including noisy conditions, reverberant environments and environments with background speech, and it has to generalize well to different domains with different speaking styles and rhythms. This work investigates building a unified endpointer by folding the separate speech detection and query endpoint detection tasks into a single neural network model through multitask learning. A categorical domain representation is further incorporated into the model to encourage learning domain specific information. The final unified model achieves around 100 ms (18% relatively) latency improvement for near-field voice queries and 150 ms (21% relatively) for far-field voice queries over simply pooling all the data together and 7% relative frame error rate reduction for long-form speech compared to a standalone speech detection model. The proposed approach also shows good robustness to noisy environments and yields 180 ms latency improvement on voice queries from an unseen domain.

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