This is the project website for Alveo: Above and Beyond Speech, Language and Music, A Virtual Lab for Human Communication Science, a project funded by NeCTAR (National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources).

Project background

Applications in automatic speech recognition (taxi ordering, directory assistance etc.), hearing aids and cochlear implants, interactive learning programs for children with learning disabilities, automatic melody recognition, forensic determination of origin and background of particular accents, computer-based information retrieval based on music, speech, sounds, or visual patterns, psycholinguistic studies of second language learning and pedagogy all depend upon research in Human Communication Science (HCS). Human Communication Science encompasses the areas of speech science, speech technology, computer science, language technology, behavioural science, linguistics, music science, phonetics, phonology, and sonics and acoustics. In turn HCS research depends upon datasets (corpora) of speech, music, text, faces, sounds, and specialised tools by which to search, analyse and annotate these data. Australia boasts a strong and active community of HCS researchers who have developed a wealth of corpora and tools relevant to HCS research. However, these researchers tend to analyse their own corpora of data using their own analysis tools in relative isolation. Yes, these researchers meet and share their knowledge, at national/international conferences but (a) relatively infrequently and (b) in discipline-centred contexts.

While HCS research in Australia is blooming, especially due to the highly successful Australian Research Council funded HCS Network from 2005-2009, and related research projects, research conducted in isolation entails inefficient repetition of analysis of local data sets. HCS research in Australia, and successful further real-life applications, requires going beyond the isolated desk-PC-lab-university-bound model of research into a new research environment. Such an environment will eradicate the waste involved in repeated unshared analyses; ignite the research spark that affords the serendipity of new tool-corpus combinations; and dramatically improve scientific replicability by moving corpora and tools and the analyses conducted with these into an easy access, shared, in-the-cloud, public, replicable environment.

Alveo connects HCS researchers, their desks, computers, labs, and universities and accelerates HCS research to produce emergent knowledge that comes from novel application of previously unshared tools to analyse previously difficult to access data sets. The Alveo infrastructure overcomes resource limitations of individual desktops; allows easy access to shared tools and data; and provides the guided use of workflow tools and options to allow researchers to cross disciplinary boundaries.

Alveo is:

  • accessibleto non-technical researchers via workflow tools, stored protocols, and interactive GUIs, while retaining capacity for more sophisticated analyses;
  • interoperableby incorporating HCS corpora from various platforms (e.g., Windows, Mac OS, Linux), and ensuring compatability with other with major systems in Australia and internationally by virtue of our Product Owner’s intimate domain knowledge and wide collaborations; and
  • sustainable13 universities, 3 organisations, and 47 key investigators have provided $423K in cash and $1.6M in-kind to support sustained operational development and development of capabilities and reach including future plug-in of additional tools and corpora, and specialist user support into the future.

Alveo creates the avenue by which HCS research can make a quantitative and qualitative leap to enhanced capability, collaboration and output, to travel well beyond the geographical confines of individual labs, and well above the disciplinary confines of speech, language, music, or sonics alone into an interdisciplinary and heuristic Human Communication Science cloud-space.