On EDN’s Sensors Design Center, we spend a lot of time looking out for new and interesting sensing technologies and approaches. Here’s a good one: VocalZoom is an Israeli startup that has invented a means of optically converting human voice to digital signals that paradoxically get more accurate in the presence of loud ambient noise.

This makes it ideal for emergency services communication, as well as its initial target applications of consumer automotive, headsets, smartphones, security, and just about any voice-recognition application you can think of.

The problem with current voice-based human-to-machine communication (HMC) systems is that they’re optimized for humans, not machines. They use acoustic microphones that detect all sounds and we waste precious power and time on fancy noise-cancellation algorithms trying to filter out background noise, while optimizing for natural, pleasant sound reproduction that is intelligible to humans

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