Posted by Matt Haynes on , last updated

This week I'm writing the 300th edition of weeknotes, and a festive one to boot! We've had an AI-inspired Christmas in IRFS, Alicia & Kristine organised an excellent afternoon of AI-inspired activities, with Mathieu and Tom playing host to a generative adversarial network-driven photo quiz - where we saw some scarily realistic, yet automatically generated faces based off members of the team. Meanwhile, we entered an even more creepy AI-generated device-orchestrated choir into the annual Xmas decoration competition - synthetic versions of the team singing 'God rest ye merry gentlemen' (see picture!).

Data Team

The Data Team have been working on the live speech to text system - a continuation of some work which was first prototyped last year. The team's recent update of the core STT system, alongside some improvements in the way they are using the Kaldi toolkit has meant the the near-realtime speech to text now performs much better. The team has reported increased accuracy and a lower maximum latency. They will be delivering the software to BBC News Labs for testing in the Newsroom and shall be further exploring the new use cases that live STT may deliver.

The team also hosted Glenn Davidson from the Archive Search team in BBC Northern Ireland. Glenn visited for two weeks to work with the team and get a better understanding of the wider R&D work. The department in NI have been one of the largest users of the Speech to Text software developed in IRFS and have begun looking into this area themselves as well. We plan to visit Belfast in the new year to see how we can work closer on our shared interests in future.

Team Anansi

The Synth Voices project has been concentrating on UI improvements to the study on regional accents used in synthetic voices. A particular emphasis is being put on the concluding part of the online experiment to ensure the experience is rewarding for participants. Next up the team are doing QA of all the regional voices that have been generated.

The Audio Augmented Reality project has also been doing voice recording sessions for the 'Looking for Nigel' prototype. While the 'Not a Robot' redesign is going full steam ahead with a new networking approach decided and new ambisonic audio being recorded.

Internet & Society Team

Libby ran a two-day training session in Salford with the latest recuits on the BBC R&D Graduate Trainee scheme. The session focused on some of the approaches we take in IRFS. She looked at case studies, user testing examples and ran a series of small workshops with diverse topics such as 'Defining Public Service' and 'Futurology'. We got some great feedback from the participants and are hoping to improve upon and repeat the workshop in future.

This post is part of the Internet Research and Future Services section