Speech software makes concept maps

February 23/March 2, 2005

As anyone who has been responsible for taking notes at a meeting can attest, paying attention to note-taking takes away from listening to or participating in a brainstorming session.

Researchers from the University of Duisburg-Essen and the University of Leipzig in Germany have devised a tool that uses speech recognition software and a database of word associations to automatically generate a map of concepts and associated terms as they are addressed in a discussion.

The tool, dubbed SemanticTalk, could eventually be used to support and document meeting activity like brainstorming, and produce raw concept material for tasks like Web site engineering, software development and product marketing, according to the researchers.

The researchers' prototype works in German. It uses a continuous speech recognition engine to collect keywords from a conversation and a large database of German terms and weighted associations between them to organize the material. The prototype includes terms from everyday speech and terminology related to business and economics.

The system displays results in real-time, providing participants with an on-the-fly visualization of the topics and ideas under discussion. Spoken terms appear on screen in one color and related terms in another. Related terms are linked by lines, and the entire set of words is presented as a logical map.

The next step is improving the ability of the system to deal with topic shifts, according to the researchers.

The system could be ready for commercial use in three to five years, according to the researchers. They presented the work at the Intelligent User Interfaces Conference (IUI 2005) held January 9 to 12, 2005 in San Diego.

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