Intuitive machine control through speech recognition
Voice control of machines in production was previously considered error-prone and was therefore hardly used. Now, the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Oldenburg has developed a solution that allows reliable control of machines with voice commands. For voice input, employees use a wireless headset, a stationary microphone or, in the future, a smart hearable, which is also being developed at the Institute's Hearing, Speech and Audio Technology Division HSA. Loud ambient noise is almost completely cancelled out by a combination of directional microphones and effective noise cancelling. Marvin Norda, project manager "Voice Controlled Production" at Fraunhofer IDMT, says: "For the first time, our technology enables robust and at the same time intuitive control of machines in production by voice commands. For manufacturing companies, this means improved efficiency and reduced costs." Benefits also accrue for employees. For example, non-contact operation of machines is safe and hygienic for humans. In addition, walking distances are shortened for employees who control multiple machines, as equipment can be contacted remotely via mobile voice input. In addition, workers have both hands free and could thus position a workpiece in the work area and simultaneously give the robot instructions such as "lower arm" or "grasp workpiece."
Efficient and needs-oriented
According to Fraunhofer IDMT, control by voice command is more efficient than using a control panel or touch panel, because the cumbersome and error-prone clicking through nested menu structures gives way to direct voice command with simple commands. "Depending on the application, speech recognition can handle hundreds of individual commands and is speaker-independent. New or modified commands are quickly added and trained," Norda said. The researchers from Oldenburg benefit from their many years of experience and expertise in researching and developing audio technologies and speech recognition software, which also benefits the more than 50 member companies of the industry working group "Audio Technology for Intelligent Production"(AiP) initiated by Fraunhofer IDMT in Oldenburg. "We develop customizable system solutions for industrial customers. Speech control can be configured tailor-made to their specific needs and implemented quickly," Norda promises. The speech recognition software can be integrated both in the cloud and on the company server according to the company's requirements. It is also possible to use a mini-PC and even integrate it directly into the
programmable logic controller (PLC) of a machine are possible without any problems, according to the Fraunhofer Institute.
Live at the Hannover Messe
The solution, which was funded by the Lower Saxony Ministry of Science and Culture and the Volkswagen Foundation, is now ready for the market and is already being tested by some industrial customers. At
Hannover Messe from April 17 to 21, 2023, visitors can experience the technology and its possibilities live at the Fraunhofer booth in Hall 16, Booth A12, using a voice-controlled milling machine as an example.