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BBN Technologies - Data Rate Vocoder Funding

BBN Technologies : 16 October, 2006  (Company News)
BBN Technologies, announced it has been awarded $2.5 million in additional funding under the second phase of DARPA's Advanced Speech Encoding (ASE 2) program to develop a noise-robust, ultra-low data rate vocoder for more efficient and effective radio communications. Vocoders compress the bandwidth needed for voice communication. ASE 2 vocoding technology is a key enabler of reliable communications anywhere, anytime among troops across all military branches. For instance, the technology would allow Army tank operators to talk to Marine helicopter crewmembers using cell-phone-like technology.
Current military radio voice encoding/decoding processing typically operates at 2400 bps and performs well when the speaker is in a quiet environment, but intelligibility of transmitted speech is significantly degraded when the speaker is in a high noise environment. In the first phase of the ASE program BBN developed and successfully demonstrated a conceptually new approach to voice coding that yields good transmitted speech intelligibility even in extremely harsh military noise environments.

In this new phase of the program, BBN will develop a noise robust vocoder operating at the ultra-low data rate of 300 bps. This extraordinarily low data rate will allow more users onto fixed bandwidth resources and will enable reliable communication under difficult radio transmission conditions, increased radio range and the possibility for covert communication. The new BBN vocoding technology will be demonstrated with a military radio transceiver developed by Harris Corporation and multiple sensors developed by Aliph and E.S. Communications.

'Attaining good intelligibility at this data rate is challenging even in quiet environments; attaining it in harsh noise environments is extremely difficult,' said Tad Elmer, president and CEO, BBN Technologies. 'DARPA's willingness to tackle difficult problems and BBN's expertise in this field will allow us to deliver a solution that enables our warfighters to communicate across all branches of the military in the harshest environments.'

This technology also has broad commercial applications that include first responders, cell-phone systems and automated speech recognition systems.
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