JPhon article published! 🎉

We are happy to announce that our article Phonetic accommodation in interaction with a virtual language learning tutor: A Wizard-of-Oz study was published in Journal of Phonetics and is available online. 📖 #openaccess 🔓

The article investigates phonetic accommodation of German native speakers in interaction with the simulated spoken dialog system Mirabella. Two versions of Mirabella are compared: one uses pre-recorded speech and the other synthesized speech. In both conditions, speakers converge to Mirabella regarding the intonation of wh-questions and one of two investigated allophonic contrasts.

ESSV (March 3-5, 2021)

The 32th Konferenz Elektronische Sprachsignalverarbeitung (ESSV) was organized by Stefan Hillmann, Benjamin Weiss, Thilo Michael, Sebastian Möller, and their team at Technische Universität Berlin. It took place virtually, of course. We should think about awarding a prize for the most well-designed gatherTown environment - ESSV 2021 would be a strong contender! 🏆

I particularly enjoyed the keynote talks by Elisabeth André (Towards socially interactive agents with explanatory skills) and David Schlangen (All interaction is situated, all language is grounded: implications for the design of spoken dialogue systems).

The Best Student Paper went to Anabell Hacker (TU Berlin) for her work Alexa, who are you? – Analysing Alexa’s, Cortana’s and Siri’s vocal personality. Congrats – great work! 👏

We presented joint work between Saarland University, Saarbrücken and Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań on Phonetic convergence evaluation based on fundamental frequency variability.

Foto Selfie during ESSV 2021: next to Telefunken-Hochhaus @ gatherTown

SpeCom article published! 🎉

We are happy to announce that our article Phonetic Accommodation to Natural and Synthetic Voices: Behavior of Groups and Individuals in Speech Shadowing was published in Speech Communication and is available online. 📖 #openaccess 🔓

The article presents a comparison of phonetic accommodation to natural and synthetic voices when shadowing short sentences. The study investigates a diverse set of features pertaining to different phonetic domains. Natural and synthetic voices triggered accommodating behavior for several features. Predominant pattern: convergence during the interaction followed by divergence after the interaction. Individual participants converged to varying subsets of the examined features.

Interspeech (October 25-29, 2020)

This year, Interspeech was held as a fully virtual conference under the motto Cognitive Intelligence for Speech Processing. A big thank you to the organizers in Shanghai/China, who made it possible for our community to meet and exchange ideas despite the global pandemic.

Our group presented joint work with Michelle Cohn, Kristin Predeck, and Georgia Zellou from the University of California, Davis, in the session on Computational Paralinguistics: Differences in Gradient Emotion Perception: Human vs. Alexa Voices.

Our second paper, Phonetic Accommodation of L2 German Speakers to the Virtual Language Learning Tutor Mirabella, was part of the session on Accoustic Phonetics of L1-L2 and received the ISCA Award for Best Student Paper at Interspeech 2020! Here’s to you, Mirabella! 🥂 🍾

This video gives a short overview of the paper:

Proceedings of Interspeech 2020

ISCA-SAC: 7th Students Meet Experts (October 28, 2020)

At the 7th Students Meet Experts event organized online by ISCA-SAC at Interspeech 2020 in Shanghai/China, our panelists Sunayana Sitaram (Microsoft Research), Jon Barker (University of Sheffield), Tara Sainath (Google), and Björn Schuller (University of Augsburg; Imperial College London; audEERING) shared their insights on questions from the student audience. Thank you for joining the event and supporting ISCA-SAC’s activities!


Some take-aways to remember:

  • Learn to think independently and critically during your PhD.
  • Keep in touch with your mentors!
  • Do not compare your thesis with the top doctoral theses in your field and try at all costs to achieve the same level.
  • A good way to start the career? Organize a challenge at Interspeech!
  • Your career is not a sprint, it's a marathon.
  • Sometimes the much-praised freedom in the academic world seems a bit of a fantasy.
  • In academia it is easier to start collaborations - more restrictions in industry.
  • Don't forget to invest time in writing journal papers.
  • In the future, we will have to take ethical aspects such as data protection, fairness and accountability more into account in our research work.