Google Research

E2E Segmenter: Joint Segmenting and Decoding for Long-Form ASR


Improving the performance of end-to-end ASR models on long utterances of minutes to hours is an ongoing problem in speech recognition. A common solution is to segment the audio in advance using a separate voice activity detector (VAD) that decides segment boundaries based purely on acoustic speech/non-speech information. VAD segmenters, however, may be sub-optimal for real-world speech where, e.g., a complete sentence that should be taken as a whole may contain hesitations in the middle ("set a alarm for... 5 o'clock"). Here, we propose replacing the VAD with an end-to-end ASR model capable of predicting segment boundaries, allowing the segmentation to be conditioned not only on deeper acoustic features but also on linguistic features from the decoded text, while requiring negligible extra compute. In experiments on real world long-form audio (YouTube) of up to 30 minutes long, we demonstrate WER gains of 5\% relative to the VAD baseline on a state-of-the-art Conformer RNN-T setup.

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