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Method and apparatus to improve the clarity of multiple simultaneous speakers in a conference call.

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000225333D
Publication Date: 2013-Feb-11
Document File: 3 page(s) / 96K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

The proposal provides a system where each participant in a conference call hears only one person speaking at a time. To achieve this, each time a user starts receiving audio from one of the other participants of the call, a check is made on whether or not anybody is currently speaking. If nobody is currently speaking then the audio is played to the user immediately. If somebody is currently speaking then the audio is recorded and saved, then as soon as the current speaker stops talking, the recorded audio is played to the user. If many messages are received on top of each other then they are all saved and played back in the order in which they were received. This means that all messages will be heard sequentially one by one with no overlap. The advantage of this is that each message will be heard clearly and without interruption.

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Method and apparatus to improve the clarity of multiple simultaneous speakers in a conference call.

Consider a large group of people in a room having a face to face discussion which is fast paced and energetic. For example they may be having a heated debate, or they may be trying to quickly solve an urgent problem. In this kind of discussion it is likely that there will regularly be more than one person speaking at the same time. People may interrupt each other, perhaps on purpose, perhaps by accident, and compete to make themselves heard by talking over each other. In these cases it can be difficult for any listener to hear and understand all the details of the conversation because everybody's words become jumbled and interfere with each other. No single person can be heard clearly because there are other people talking over them.

    Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software allows users to speak to each other remotely over an internet connection. Now consider that same group discussion taking place as a VoIP conference call. It will be even more difficult to hear the details of the conversation for several reasons:


1) The use of audio equipment (microphones, telephones, etc) results in lower sound quality than speaking face to face.


2) Poor quality audio equipment and network connections can cause feedback loops, buzzing, background noise, and imperfect data transmission with gaps in the stream.


3) Latency in the audio signals sent and received means that when somebody starts to speak their voice is not heard immediately by the other people in the conversation, which makes it easier to accidentally interrupt and talk over somebody

before you've even realized that they are speaking.


4) Participants generally cannot see each other and therefore they cannot watch each other's lips or body language to aid communication, nor can they lean in closer to a particular person to hear better.

    For these reasons, using VoIP conference calls for noisy, fast paced discussions is challenging. This can be particularly problematic in situations where fast and effective communication is needed, for example a team communicating

while playing a fast paced video game.

    In a known solution to this problem a permission system is used where participants have to be granted permission before being allowed to transmit a message. The granting of permission to talk can be done by a designated discussion chair or by a queue system or priority system. This solution works to prevent people from talking over each other because only one speaker is given permission to speak at a time. However it works by preventing transmission by everybody except the person who currently has permission. Everybody else must

wait until they are notified that they have permission before they are allowed to

speak. This means that they must be paying attention to some notification message

which will tell them when they have permission to talk, which they will not be able to

do if they...