Non-Speech Environmental Sound Classification System for Autonomous Surveillance

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Sitte, Renate

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Thornton, John

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Sound is one of a human beings most important senses. After vision, it is the sense most used to gather information about the environment. Despite this, comparatively little research has been done into the field of sound recognition. The research that has been done mainly centres around the recognition of speech and music. Our auditory environment is made up of many sounds other than speech and music. This sound information can be taped into for the benefit of specific applications such as security systems. Currently, most researchers are ignoring this sound information. This thesis investigates techniques to recognise environmental non-speech sounds and their direction, with the purpose of using these techniques in an autonomous mobile surveillance robot. It also presents advanced methods to improve the accuracy and efficiency of these techniques. Initially, this report presents an extensive literature survey, looking at the few existing techniques for non-speech environmental sound recognition. This survey also, by necessity, investigates existing techniques used for sound recognition in speech and music. It also examines techniques used for direction detection of sounds. The techniques that have been identified are then comprehensively compared to determine the most appropriate techniques for non-speech sound recognition. A comprehensive comparison is performed using non-speech sounds and several runs are performed to ensure accuracy. These techniques are then ranked based on their effectiveness. The best technique is found to be either Continuous Wavelet Transform feature extraction with Dynamic Time Warping or Mel-Frequency Cepstral Coefficients with Dynamic Time Warping. Both of these techniques achieve a 70% recognition rate. Once the best of the existing classification techniques is identified, the problem of uncountable sounds in the environment can be addressed. Unlike speech recognition, non-speech sound recognition requires recognition from a much wider library of sounds. Due to this near-infinite set of example sounds, the characteristics and complexity of non-speech sound recognition techniques increases. To address this problem, a systematic scheme needs to be developed for non-speech sound classification. Several different approaches are examined. Included is a new design for an environmental sound taxonomy based on an environmental sound alphabet. This taxonomy works over three levels and classifies sounds based on their physical characteristics. Its performance is compared with a technique that generates a structured tree automatically. These structured techniques are compared for different data sets and results are analysed. Comparable results are achieved for these techniques with the same data set as previously used. In addition, the results and greater information from these experiments is used to infer some information about the structure of environmental sounds in general. Finally, conclusions are drawn on both sets of techniques and areas of future research stemming from this thesis are explored.

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Thesis (PhD Doctorate)

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Information Technology

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sound recognition



autonomous surveillance






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