US20060133621A1 - Wireless telephone having multiple microphones - Google Patents

Wireless telephone having multiple microphones Download PDF

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Publication number
US20060133621A1
US20060133621A1 US11/018,921 US1892104A US2006133621A1 US 20060133621 A1 US20060133621 A1 US 20060133621A1 US 1892104 A US1892104 A US 1892104A US 2006133621 A1 US2006133621 A1 US 2006133621A1
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audio signal
microphone
background noise
component
wireless telephone
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US11/018,921
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Juin-Hwey Chen
James Bennett
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Avago Technologies General IP Singapore Pte Ltd
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Broadcom Corp
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Priority to US11/018,921 priority Critical patent/US20060133621A1/en
Priority claimed from US11/065,131 external-priority patent/US20060135085A1/en
Assigned to BROADCOM CORPORATION reassignment BROADCOM CORPORATION ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: BENNETT, JAMES, CHEN, JUIN-HWEY
Priority claimed from US11/135,491 external-priority patent/US7983720B2/en
Priority claimed from US11/215,304 external-priority patent/US8509703B2/en
Priority claimed from US11/239,351 external-priority patent/US20060147063A1/en
Publication of US20060133621A1 publication Critical patent/US20060133621A1/en
Priority claimed from US11/653,858 external-priority patent/US20070116300A1/en
Assigned to BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., AS COLLATERAL AGENT reassignment BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., AS COLLATERAL AGENT PATENT SECURITY AGREEMENT Assignors: BROADCOM CORPORATION
Assigned to AVAGO TECHNOLOGIES GENERAL IP (SINGAPORE) PTE. LTD. reassignment AVAGO TECHNOLOGIES GENERAL IP (SINGAPORE) PTE. LTD. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: BROADCOM CORPORATION
Assigned to BROADCOM CORPORATION reassignment BROADCOM CORPORATION TERMINATION AND RELEASE OF SECURITY INTEREST IN PATENTS Assignors: BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., AS COLLATERAL AGENT
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M1/00Substation equipment, e.g. for use by subscribers; Analogous equipment at exchanges
    • H04M1/60Substation equipment, e.g. for use by subscribers; Analogous equipment at exchanges including speech amplifiers
    • H04M1/6008Substation equipment, e.g. for use by subscribers; Analogous equipment at exchanges including speech amplifiers in the transmitter circuit
    • GPHYSICS
    • G10MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS; ACOUSTICS
    • G10LSPEECH ANALYSIS OR SYNTHESIS; SPEECH RECOGNITION; SPEECH OR VOICE PROCESSING; SPEECH OR AUDIO CODING OR DECODING
    • G10L21/00Processing of the speech or voice signal to produce another audible or non-audible signal, e.g. visual or tactile, in order to modify its quality or its intelligibility
    • G10L21/02Speech enhancement, e.g. noise reduction or echo cancellation
    • G10L21/0208Noise filtering
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H03BASIC ELECTRONIC CIRCUITRY
    • H03GCONTROL OF AMPLIFICATION
    • H03G3/00Gain control in amplifiers or frequency changers without distortion of the input signal
    • H03G3/20Automatic control
    • H03G3/30Automatic control in amplifiers having semiconductor devices
    • H03G3/32Automatic control in amplifiers having semiconductor devices the control being dependent upon ambient noise level or sound level
    • GPHYSICS
    • G10MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS; ACOUSTICS
    • G10LSPEECH ANALYSIS OR SYNTHESIS; SPEECH RECOGNITION; SPEECH OR VOICE PROCESSING; SPEECH OR AUDIO CODING OR DECODING
    • G10L21/00Processing of the speech or voice signal to produce another audible or non-audible signal, e.g. visual or tactile, in order to modify its quality or its intelligibility
    • G10L21/02Speech enhancement, e.g. noise reduction or echo cancellation
    • G10L21/0208Noise filtering
    • G10L21/0216Noise filtering characterised by the method used for estimating noise
    • G10L2021/02161Number of inputs available containing the signal or the noise to be suppressed
    • G10L2021/02165Two microphones, one receiving mainly the noise signal and the other one mainly the speech signal

Abstract

The present invention is directed to a wireless telephone having a first microphone and a second microphone and a method for processing audio signal in a wireless telephone having a first microphone and a second microphone. The wireless telephone includes a first microphone, a second microphone, and a signal processor. The first microphone outputs a first audio signal, the first audio signal comprising a voice component and a background noise component. The second microphone outputs a second audio signal. The signal processor increases a ratio of the voice component to the noise component of the first audio signal based on the content of at least one of the first audio signal and the second audio signal to produce a third audio signal.

Description

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Field of the Invention
  • The present invention relates generally to mobile telecommunication devices, and in particular to wireless telephones.
  • 2. Background Art
  • Background noise is an inherent problem in wireless telephone communication. Conventional wireless telephones include a single microphone that receives a near-end user's voice and outputs a corresponding audio signal for subsequent encoding and transmission to the telephone of a far-end user. However, the audio signal output by this microphone typically includes both a voice component and a background noise component. As a result, the far-end user often has difficulty deciphering the desired voice component against the din of the embedded background noise component.
  • Conventional wireless telephones often include a noise suppressor to reduce the detrimental effects of background noise. A noise suppressor attempts to reduce the level of the background noise by processing the audio signal output by the microphone through various algorithms. These algorithms attempt to differentiate between a voice component of the audio signal and a background noise component of the audio signal, and then attenuate the level of the background noise component.
  • Conventional wireless telephones often also include a voice activity detector (VAD) that attempts to identify and transmit only those portions of the audio signal that include a voice component. One benefit of VAD is that bandwidth is conserved on the telecommunication network because only selected portions of the audio signal are transmitted.
  • In order to operate effectively, both the noise suppressor and the VAD must be able to differentiate between the voice component and the background noise component of the input audio signal. However, in practice, differentiating the voice component from the background noise component is difficult.
  • What is needed then, is a wireless telephone that better mitigates the effect of background noise present in an input audio signal as compared to conventional wireless telephones, thereby resulting in the transmission of a cleaner voice signal during telephone communication. In particular, the desired wireless telephone should better differentiate between a voice component and a background noise component of an input audio signal as compared to conventional wireless telephones. Based on this differentiation, the improved wireless telephone should operate to cancel the background noise component of the audio signal. Additionally or alternatively, based on this differentiation, the improved wireless telephone should provide improved noise suppression and/or VAD functionality.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention is directed to a wireless telephone having a first microphone and a second microphone, wherein an audio signal output from the second microphone is used to differentiate between a voice component and a background noise component of an audio signal output from the first microphone. Based on this differentiation, a wireless telephone in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention operates to cancel the background noise component of the audio signal output from the first microphone. Additionally or alternatively, based on this differentiation, a wireless telephone in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention provides better noise suppression and/or VAD functionality.
  • In particular, a wireless telephone in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention includes a first microphone, a second microphone, and a signal processor. The first microphone outputs a first audio signal that includes a voice component and a background noise component. The second microphone outputs a second audio signal. The signal processor increases a ratio of the voice component to the noise component of the first audio signal based on the content of at least one of the first audio signal and the second audio signal to produce a third audio signal.
  • In one embodiment of the present invention the signal processor includes a background noise cancellation module. The background noise cancellation module receives the first and second audio signals and cancels at least a portion of the background noise component of the first audio signal based on the content of the second audio signal to produce the third audio signal.
  • In an alternative embodiment of the present invention the signal processor includes a noise suppressor. The noise suppressor receives the first and second audio signals and suppresses at least a portion of the background noise component of the first audio signal based on the content of the first audio signal and the second audio signal to produce the third audio signal.
  • A wireless telephone in accordance with another embodiment-of the present invention includes a first microphone, a second microphone, and a voice activity detector (VAD). The first microphone outputs a first audio signal that includes a voice component and a background noise component. The second microphone outputs a second audio signal. The VAD receives the first and second audio signals and detects time intervals in which the voice component is present in the first audio signal based on the content of the first audio signal and the second audio signal. In an example embodiment, the VAD provides input to a transmitter relating to the time intervals in which a voice component is present in the first audio signal. The transmitter selectively transmits the first audio signal to another telephone responsive to the input.
  • The present invention also provides a method for processing audio Signals in a wireless telephone having a first microphone and a second microphone. In an embodiment, the method includes outputting a first audio signal from the first microphone, wherein the first audio signal includes a voice component and a background noise component. A second audio signal is output from the second microphone. A ratio of the voice component to the noise component of the first audio signal is increased based on the content of at least one of the first audio signal and the second audio signal to produce a third audio signal.
  • Increasing the ratio of the voice component to background noise component may include canceling at least a portion of the background noise component of the first audio signal based on the content of the second audio signal to produce the third audio signal. Alternatively, increasing the ratio of the voice component to background noise component may include suppressing at least a portion of the background noise component of the first audio signal based on the content of the first audio signal and the second audio signal to produce the third audio signal.
  • A further method for processing audio signals in a wireless telephone having a first microphone and a second microphone in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention includes outputting a first audio signal from the first microphone, wherein the first audio signal comprises a voice component and a background noise component. A second audio signal is output from the second microphone. Time intervals in which the voice component is present in the first audio signal are detected based on the content of the first audio signal and the second audio signal.
  • Further embodiments and features of the present invention, as well as the structure and operation of the various embodiments of the present invention, are described in detail below with reference to the accompanying drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS/FIGURES
  • The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated herein and form a part of the specification, illustrate the present invention and, together with the description, further serve to explain the principles of the invention and to enable a person skilled in the pertinent art to make and use the invention.
  • FIG. 1A is a functional block diagram of the transmit path of a Conventional wireless telephone.
  • FIG. 1B is a functional block diagram of the receive path of a conventional wireless telephone.
  • FIG. 2 is a schematic representation of the front portion of a wireless telephone in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 3 is a schematic representation of the back portion of a wireless telephone in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 4 is a functional block diagram of a transmit path of a wireless telephone in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 5 illustrates a flowchart of a method for processing audio signals in a wireless telephone having a first microphone and a second microphone in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 6 is a functional block diagram of a signal processor in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 7 illustrates a flowchart of a method for processing audio signals in a wireless telephone having a first microphone and a second microphone in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 8 illustrates voice and noise components output from first and second microphones, in an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 9 is a functional block diagram of a background noise cancellation module in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 10 is a functional block diagram of a signal processor in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 11 illustrates a flowchart of a method for processing audio signals in a wireless telephone having a first microphone and a second microphone in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 12A illustrates an exemplary frequency spectrum of a voice component and a background noise component of a first audio signal output by a first microphone, in an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 12B illustrates an exemplary frequency spectrum of an audio signal upon which noise suppression has been performed, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 13 is a functional block diagram of a transmit path of a wireless telephone in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 14 is a flowchart depicting a method for processing audio signals in a wireless telephone having a first microphone and a second microphone in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 15 shows exemplary plots depicting a voice component and a background noise component output by first and second microphones of a wireless telephone, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • The present invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings. In the drawings, like reference numbers may indicate identical or functionally similar elements. Additionally, the left-most digit(s) of a reference number may identify the drawing in which the reference number first appears.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention provides a wireless telephone implemented with a first microphone and a second microphone. As will be described in more detail herein, an audio signal output by the second microphone is used to improve the quality of an audio signal output by the first microphone and/or to improve noise suppression and/or VAD technology incorporated within the wireless telephone.
  • The detailed description of the invention is divided into six subsections. In the first subsection, an overview of the workings of a conventional wireless telephone are discussed. This discussion facilitates the description of the present invention. In the second subsection, an overview of a wireless telephone implemented with a first microphone and second microphone is presented. In the third subsection, a first embodiment of the present invention is described in which the output of the second microphone is used to cancel a background noise component output by the first microphone. In the fourth subsection, a second embodiment of the present invention is described in which the output of the second microphone is used to suppress a background noise component output by the first microphone. In the fifth subsection, a third embodiment of the present invention is discussed in which the output of the second microphone is used to improve VAD technology incorporated in the wireless telephone. In the sixth subsection, alternative arrangements of the present invention are discussed.
  • I. Overview of Signal Processing within Conventional Wireless Telephones
  • Conventional wireless telephones use what is commonly referred to as encoder/decoder technology. The transmit path of a wireless telephone encodes an audio signal picked up by a microphone onboard the wireless telephone. The encoded audio signal is then transmitted to another telephone. The receive path of a wireless telephone receives signals transmitted from other wireless telephones. The received signals are then decoded into a format that an end user can understand.
  • FIG. 1A is a functional block diagram of a typical transmit path 100 of a conventional digital wireless telephone. Transmit path 100 includes a microphone 109, an analog-to-digital (A/D) converter 101, a noise suppressor 102, a voice activity detector (VAD) 103, a speech encoder 104, a channel encoder 105, a modulator 106, a radio frequency (RF) module 107, and an antenna 108.
  • Microphone 109 receives a near-end user's voice and outputs a corresponding audio signal, which typically includes both a voice component and a background noise component. The A/D converter 101 converts the audio signal from an analog to a digital form. The audio signal is next processed through noise suppressor 102. Noise suppressor 102 uses various algorithms, known to persons skilled in the pertinent art, to suppress the level of embedded background noise that is present in the audio signal.
  • Speech encoder 104 converts the output of noise suppressor 102 into a channel index. The particular format that speech encoder 104 uses to encode the signal is dependent upon the type of technology being used. For example, the signal may be encoded in formats that comply with GSM (Global Standard for Mobile Communication), CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access), or other technologies commonly used for telecommunication. These different encoding formats are known to persons skilled in the relevant art and for the sake of brevity are not discussed in further detail.
  • As shown in FIG. 1A, VAD 103 also receives the output of noise suppressor 102. VAD 103 uses algorithms known to persons skilled in the pertinent art to analyze the audio signal output by noise suppressor 102 and determine when the user is speaking. VAD 103 typically operates on a frame-by-frame basis to generate a signal that indicates whether or not a frame includes voice content. This signal is provided to speech encoder 104, which uses the signal to determine how best to process the frame. For example, if VAD 103 indicates that a frame does not include voice content, speech encoder 103 may skip the encoding of the frame entirely.
  • Channel encoder 105 is employed to reduce bit errors that can occur after the signal is processed through the speech encoder 104. That is, channel encoder 105 makes the signal more robust by adding redundant bits to the signal. For example, in a wireless phone implementing the original GSM technology, a typical bit rate at the output of the speech encoder might be about 13 kilobits (kb) per second, whereas, a typical bit rate at the output of the channel encoder might be about 22 kb/sec. The extra bits that are present in the signal after channel encoding do not carry information about the speech; they just make the signal more robust, which helps reduce the bit errors.
  • The modulator 106 combines the digital signals from the channel encoder into symbols, which become an analog wave form. Finally, RF module 107 translates the analog wave forms into radio frequencies, and then transmits the RF signal via antenna 108 to another telephone.
  • FIG. 1B is a functional block diagram of a typical receive path 120 of a conventional wireless telephone. Receive path 120 processes an incoming signal in almost exactly the reverse fashion as compared to transmit path 100. As shown in FIG. 1B, receive path 120 includes an antenna 128, an RF module 127, a channel decoder 125, a speech decoder 124, a digital to analog (D/A) converter 122, and a speaker 129.
  • During operation, an analog input signal is received by antenna 128 and RF module 127 translates the radio frequencies into baseband frequencies. Demodulator 126 converts the analog waveforms back into a digital signal. Channel decoder 125 decodes the digital signal back into the channel index, which speech decoder 124 converts back into digitized speech. D/A converter 122 converts the digitized speech into analog speech. Lastly, speaker 129 converts the analog speech signal into a sound pressure wave so that it can be heard by an end user.
  • II. Overview of a Wireless Telephone Having Two Microphones in Accordance with The Present Invention
  • A wireless telephone in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention includes a first microphone and a second microphone. As mentioned above and as will be described in more detail herein, an audio signal output by the second microphone is used to improve the quality of an audio signal output by the first microphone or to support improved VAD technology.
  • FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrate front and back portions, respectively, of a wireless telephone 200 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 2, the front portion of wireless telephone 200 includes a first microphone 201 and a speaker 203 located thereon. First microphone 201 is located so as to be close to a user's mouth during regular use of wireless telephone 200. Speaker 203 is located so as to be close to a user's ear during regular use of wireless telephone 200.
  • As shown in FIG. 3, second microphone 202 is located on the back portion of wireless telephone 200. Second microphone 202 is located so as to be further away from a user's mouth during regular use than first microphone 201, and preferably is located to be as far away from the user's mouth during regular use as possible.
  • By mounting first microphone 201 so that it is closer to a user's mouth than second microphone 202 during regular use, the amplitude of the user's voice as picked up by the first microphone 201 will likely be greater than the amplitude of the user's voice as picked up by second microphone 202. Similarly, by so mounting first microphone 201 and second microphone 202, the amplitude of any background noise picked up by second microphone 202 will likely be greater than the amplitude of the background noise picked up by first microphone 201. The manner in which the signals generated by first microphone 201 and second microphone 202 are utilized by wireless telephone 200 will be described in more detail below.
  • FIGS. 2 and 3 show an embodiment in which first and second microphones 201 and 202 are mounted on the front and back portion of a wireless telephone, respectively. However, the invention is not limited to this embodiment and the first and second microphones may be located in other locations on a wireless telephone and still be within the scope of the present invention. For performance reasons, however, it is preferable that the first and second microphone be mounted so that the first microphone is closer to the mouth of a user than the second microphone during regular use of the wireless telephone.
  • FIG. 4 is a functional block diagram of a transmit path 400 of a wireless telephone that is implemented with a first microphone and a second microphone in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Transmit path 400 includes a first microphone 201 and a second microphone 202. In addition, transmit path 400 includes an A/D converter 410, an A/D converter 412, a signal processor 420, a speech encoder 404, a channel encoder 405, a modulator 406, an RF module 407, and an antenna 408. Speech encoder 404, channel encoder 405, modulator 406, RF module 407, and antenna 408 are respectively analogous to speech encoder 104, channel encoder 105, modulator 106, RF module 107, and antenna 108 discussed with reference to transmit path 100 of FIG. 1A and thus their operation will not be discussed in detail below.
  • The method by which audio signals are processed along transmit path 400 of the wireless telephone depicted in FIG. 4 will now be described with reference to the flowchart 500 of FIG. 5. The present invention, however, is not limited to the description provided by the flowchart 500. Rather, it will be apparent to persons skilled in the relevant art(s) from the teachings provided herein that other functional flows are within the scope and spirit of the present invention.
  • The method of flowchart 500 begins at step 510, in which first microphone 201 outputs a first audio signal, which includes a voice component and a background noise component. A/D converter 410 receives the first audio signal and converts it from an analog to digital format before providing it to signal processor 420.
  • At step 520, second microphone 202 outputs a second audio signal, which also includes a voice component and a background noise component. A/D converter 412 receives the second audio signal and converts it from an analog to digital format before providing it to signal processor 420.
  • At step 530, signal processor 420 receives and processes the first and second audio signals, thereby generating a third audio signal. In particular, signal processor 420 increases a ratio of the voice component to the noise component of the first audio signal based on the content of the second audio signal to produce a third audio signal.
  • The third audio signal is then provided directly to speech encoder 404. Speech encoder 404 and channel encoder 405 operate to encode the third audio signal using any of a variety of well known speech and channel encoding techniques. Modulator 406, RF module and antenna 408 then operate in a well-known manner to transmit the encoded audio signal to another telephone.
  • As will be discussed in more detail herein, signal processor 420 may comprise a background noise cancellation module and/or a noise suppressor. The manner in which the background noise cancellation module and the noise suppressor operate are described ire more detail in subsections III and IV, respectively.
  • III. Use of Two Microphones to Perform Background Noise Cancellation in Accordance with an Embodiment of the Present Invention
  • FIG. 6 depicts an embodiment in which signal processor 420 includes a background noise cancellation module 605 and a downsampler 615 (optional). Background noise cancellation module 605 receives the first and second audio signals output by the first and second microphones 201 and 202, respectively. Background noise cancellation module 605 uses the content of the second audio signal to cancel a background noise component present in the first audio signal to produce a third audio signal. The details of the cancellation are described below with reference to FIGS. 7 and 8. The third audio signal is sent to the rest of transmit path 400 before being transmitted to the telephone of a far-end user.
  • FIG. 7 illustrates a flowchart 700 of a method for processing audio signals using a wireless telephone having two microphones in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Flowchart 700 is used to facilitate the description of how background noise cancellation module 605 cancels at least a portion of a background noise component included in the first audio signal output by first microphone 201.
  • The method of flowchart 700 starts at step 710, in which first microphone 201 outputs a first audio signal. The first audio signal includes a voice component and a background noise component. In step 720, second microphone 202 outputs a second audio signal. Similar to the first audio signal, the second audio signal includes a voice component and a background noise component.
  • FIG. 8 shows exemplary outputs from first and second microphones 201 and 202, respectively, upon which background noise cancellation module 605 may operate. FIG. 8 shows an exemplary first audio signal 800 output by first microphone 201. First audio signal 800 consists of a voice component 810 and a background noise component 820, which are also separately depicted in FIG. 8 for illustrative purposes. FIG. 8 further shows an exemplary second audio signal 850 output by second microphone 202. Second audio signal 850 consists of a voice component 860 and a background noise component 870, which are also separately depicted in FIG. 8. As can be seen from FIG. 8, the amplitude of the voice component picked up by first microphone 201 (i.e., voice component 810) is advantageously greater than the amplitude of the voice component picked up by second microphone 202 (i.e., voice component 860), and vice versa for the background noise components. As was discussed earlier, the relative amplitude of the voice component (background noise component) picked up by first microphone 201 and second microphone 202 is a function of their respective locations on wireless telephone 200.
  • At step 730 (FIG. 7), background noise cancellation module 605 uses the second audio signal to cancel at least a portion of the background noise component included in the first audio signal output by first microphone 201. Finally, the third audio signal produced by background noise cancellation module 605 is transmitted to another telephone. That is, after background noise cancellation module 605 cancels out at least a portion of the background noise component of the first audio signal output by first microphone 201 to produce a third audio signal, the third audio signal is then processed through the standard components or processing steps used in conventional encoder/decoder technology, which were described above with reference to FIG. 1A. The details of these additional signal processing steps are not described further for brevity.
  • In one embodiment, background noise cancellation module 605 includes an adaptive filter and an adder. FIG. 9 depicts a background noise cancellation module 605 including an adaptive filter 901 and an adder 902. Adaptive filter 901 receives the second audio signal from second microphone 202 and outputs an audio signal. Adder 902 adds the first audio signal, received from first microphone 201, to the audio signal output by adaptive filter 901 to produce a third audio signal. By adding the first audio signal to the audio signal output by adaptive filter 901, the third audio signal produced by adder 902 has at least a portion of the background noise component that was present in the first audio signal cancelled out.
  • In another embodiment of the present invention, signal processor 420 includes a background noise cancellation module 605 and a downsampler 615. In accordance with this embodiment, A/D converter 410 and A/D converter 412 sample the first and second audio signals output by first and second microphones 201 and 202, respectively, at a higher sampling rate than is typically used within wireless telephones. For example, the first audio signal output by first microphone 201 and the second audio signal output by second microphones 202 can be sampled at 16 kHz by A/D converters 410 and 412, respectively; in comparison, the typical signal sampling rate used in a transmit path of most conventional wireless telephones is 8 kHz. After the first and second audio signals are processed through background noise cancellation module 605 to cancel out the background noise component from the first audio signal, downsampler 615 downsamples the third audio signal produced by background cancellation module 605 back to the proper sampling rate (e.g. 8 kHz). The higher sampling rate of this embodiment offers more precise time slicing and more accurate time matching, if added precision and accuracy are required in the background noise cancellation module 605.
  • As mentioned above and as is described in more detail in the next subsection, additionally or alternatively, the audio signal output by the second microphone is used to improve noise suppression of the audio signal output by the first microphone.
  • IV. Use of Two Microphones to Perform Improved Noise Suppression in Accordance with an Embodiment of the Present Invention
  • As noted above, signal processor 420 may include a noise suppressor. FIG. 10 shows an embodiment in which signal processor 420 includes a noise suppressor 1007. In accordance with this embodiment, noise suppressor 1007 receives the first audio signal and the second audio signal output by first and second microphones 201 and 202, respectively. Noise suppressor 1007 suppresses at least a portion of the background noise component included in the first audio signal based on the content of the first audio signal and the second audio signal. The details of this background noise suppression are described in more detail with reference to FIG. 11.
  • FIG. 11 illustrates a flowchart 1100 of a method for processing audio signals using a wireless telephone having a first and a second microphone in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. This method is used to suppress at least a portion of the background noise component included in the output of the first microphone.
  • The method of flowchart 1100 begins at step 1110, in which first microphone 201 outputs a first audio signal that includes a voice component and a background noise component. In step 1120, second microphone 202 outputs a second audio signal that includes a voice component and a background noise component.
  • At step 1130, noise suppressor 1007 receives the first and second audio signals and suppresses at least a portion of the background noise component of the first audio signal based on the content of the first and second audio signals to produce a third audio signal. The details of this step will now be described in more detail.
  • In one embodiment, noise suppressor 1007 converts the first and second audio signals into the frequency domain before suppressing the background noise component in the first audio signal. FIGS. 12A and 12B show exemplary frequency spectra that are used to illustrate the function of noise suppressor 1007.
  • FIG. 12A shows two components: a voice spectrum component 1210 and a noise spectrum component 1220. Voice spectrum 1210 includes pitch harmonic peaks (the equally spaced peaks) and the three formants in the spectral envelope.
  • FIG. 12A is an exemplary plot used for conceptual illustration purposes only. It is to be appreciated that voice component 1210 and noise component 1220 are mixed and inseparable in audio signals picked up by actual microphones. In reality, a microphone picks up a single mixed voice and noise signal and its spectrum.
  • FIG. 12B shows an exemplary single mixed voice and noise spectrum before noise suppression (i.e., spectrum 1260) and after noise suppression (i.e., spectrum 1270). For example, spectrum 1260 is the magnitude of a Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) of the first audio signal output by first microphone 201.
  • A typical noise suppressor keeps an estimate of the background noise spectrum (e.g., spectrum 1220 in FIG. 12A), and then compares the observed single voice and noise spectrum (e.g., spectrum 1260 in FIG. 12B) with this estimated background noise spectrum to determine whether each frequency component is predominately voice or predominantly noise. If it is considered predominantly noise, the magnitude of the FFT coefficient at that frequency is attenuated. If it is considered predominantly voice, then the FFT coefficient is kept as is. This can be seen in FIG. 12B.
  • There are many frequency regions where spectrum 1270 is on top of spectrum 1260. These frequency regions are considered to contain predominantly voice. On the other hand, regions where spectrum 1260 and spectrum 1270 are at different places are the frequency regions that are considered predominantly noise. By attenuating the frequency regions that are predominantly noise, noise suppressor 1007 produces a third audio signal (e.g., an audio signal corresponding to frequency spectrum 1270) with an increased ratio of the voice component to background noise component compared to the first audio signal.
  • The operations described in the last two paragraphs above correspond to a conventional single-microphone noise suppression scheme. According to an embodiment of the present invention, noise suppressor 1007 additionally uses the spectrum of the second audio signal picked up by the second microphone to estimate the background noise spectrum 1220 more accurately than in a single-microphone noise suppression scheme.
  • In a conventional single-microphone noise suppressor, background noise spectrum 1220 is estimated between “talk spurts”, i.e., during the gaps between active speech segments corresponding to uttered syllables. Such a scheme works well only if the background noise is relatively stationary, i.e., when the general shape of noise spectrum 1220 does not change much during each talk spurt. If noise spectrum 1220 changes significantly through the duration of the talk spurt, then the single-microphone noise suppressor will not work well because the noise spectrum estimated during the last “gap” is not reliable. Therefore, in general, and especially for non-stationary background noise, the availability of the spectrum of the second audio signal picked up by the second microphone allows noise suppressor 1007 to get a more accurate, up-to-date estimate of noise spectrum 1220, and thus achieve better noise suppression performance.
  • Note that the spectrum of the second audio signal should not be used directly as the estimate of the noise spectrum 1220. There are at least two problems with using the spectrum of the second audio signal directly: first, the second audio signal may still have some voice component in it; and second, the noise component in the second audio signal is generally different from the noise component in the first audio signal.
  • To circumvent the first problem, the voice component can be cancelled out of the second audio signal. For example, in conjunction with a noise cancellation scheme, the noise-cancelled version of the first audio signal, which is a cleaner version of the main voice signal, can pass through an adaptive filter. The signal resulting from the adaptive filter can be added to the second audio signal to cancel out a large portion of the voice component in the second audio signal.
  • To circumvent the second problem, an approximation of the noise component in the first audio signal can be determined, for example, by filtering the voice-cancelled version of the second audio signal with adaptive filter 901.
  • The example method outlined above, which includes the use of a first and second audio signal, allows noise suppressor 1007 to obtain a more accurate and up-to-date estimate of noise spectrum 1220 during a talk spurt than a conventional noise suppression scheme that only uses one audio signal. An alternative embodiment of the present invention can use the second audio signal picked up by the second microphone to help obtain a more accurate determination of talk spurts versus inter-syllable gaps; and this will, in turn, produce a more reliable estimate of noise spectrum 1220, and thus improve the noise suppression performance.
  • For the particular example of FIG. 12B, spectrum 1260 in the noise regions is attenuated by 10 dB resulting in spectrum 1270. It should be appreciated that an attenuation of 10 dB is shown for illustrative purposes, and not limitation. It will be apparent to persons having ordinary skill in the art that spectrum 1260 could be attenuated by more or less than 10 dB.
  • Lastly, the third audio signal is transmitted to another telephone. The processing and transmission of the third audio signal is achieved in like manner to that which was described above in reference to conventional transmit path 100 (FIG. 1A).
  • As mentioned above and as is described in more detail in the next subsection, additionally or alternatively, the audio signal output by the second microphone is used to improve VAD technology incorporated within the wireless telephone.
  • V. Use of Two Microphones to Perform Improved VAD in Accordance with an Embodiment of the Present Invention
  • FIG. 13 is a functional block diagram of a transmit path 1300 of a wireless telephone that is implemented with a first microphone and a second microphone in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Transmit path 1300 includes a first microphone 201 and a second microphone 202. In addition, transmit path 1300 includes an A/D converter 1310, an A/D converter 1312, a noise suppressor 1307 (optional), a VAD 1320, a speech encoder 1304, a channel encoder 1305, a modulator 1306, an RF module 1307, and an antenna 1308. Speech encoder 1304, channel encoder 1305, modulator 1306, RF module 1307, and antenna 1308 are respectively analogous to speech encoder 104, channel encoder 105, modulator 106, RF module 107, and antenna 108 discussed with reference to transmit path 100 of FIG. 1A and thus their operation will not be discussed in detail below.
  • For illustrative purposes and not limitation, transmit path 1300 is described in an embodiment in which noise suppressor 1307 is not present. In this example embodiment, VAD 1320 receives the first audio signal and second audio signal output by first microphone 201 and the second microphone 202, respectively. VAD 1320 uses both the first audio signal output by the first microphone 201 and the second audio signal output by second microphone 202 to provide detection of voice activity in the first audio signal. VAD 1320 sends an indication signal to speech encoder 1304 indicating which time intervals of the first audio signal include a voice component. The details of the function of VAD 1320 are described with reference to FIG. 14.
  • FIG. 14 illustrates a flowchart 1400 of a method for processing audio signals in a wireless telephone having a first and a second microphone, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. This method is used to detect time intervals in which an audio signal output by the first microphone includes a voice component.
  • The method of flowchart 1400 begins at step 1410, in which first microphone 201 outputs a first audio signal the includes a voice component and a background noise component. In step 1420, second microphone 202 outputs a second audio signal that includes a voice component and a background noise component.
  • FIG. 15 shows exemplary plots of the first and second audio signals output by first and second microphones 201 and 202, respectively. Plot 1500 is a representation of the first audio signal output by first microphone 201. The audio signal shown in plot 1500 includes a voice component 1510 and a background noise component 1520. The audio signal shown in plot 1550 is a representation of the second audio signal output by second microphone 202. Plot 1550 also includes a voice component 1560 and a background noise component 1570. As discussed above, since first microphone 201 is preferably closer to a user's mouth during regular use than second microphone 202, the amplitude of voice component 1510 is greater than the amplitude of voice component 1560. Conversely, the amplitude of background noise component 1570 is greater than the amplitude of background noise component 1520.
  • As shown in step 1430 of flowchart. 1400, VAD 1320, based on the content of the first audio signal (plot 1500) and the second audio signal (plot 1550), detects time intervals in which voice component 1510 is present in the first audio signal. By using the second audio signal in addition to the first audio signal to detect voice activity in the first audio signal, VAD 1320 achieves improved voice activity detection as compared to VAD technology that only monitors one audio signal. That is, the additional information coming from the second audio signal, which includes mostly background noise component 1570, helps VAD 1320 better differentiate what in the first audio signal constitutes the voice component, thereby helping VAD 1320 achieve improved performance.
  • As an example, according to an embodiment of the present invention, in addition to all the other signal features that a conventional single-microphone VAD normally monitors, VAD 1320 can also monitor the energy ratio or average magnitude ratio between the first audio signal and the second audio signal to help it better detect voice activity in the first audio signal. This possibility is readily evident by comparing first audio signal 1500 and second audio signal 1550 in FIG. 15. For audio signals 1500 and 1550 shown in FIG. 15, the energy of first audio signal 1500 is greater than the energy of second audio signal 1550 during talk spurt (active speech). On the other hand, during the gaps between talk spurts (i.e. background noise only regions), the opposite is true. Thus, the energy ratio of the first audio signal over the second audio signal goes from a high value during talk spurts to a low value during the gaps between talk spurts. This change of energy ratio provides a valuable clue about voice activity in the first audio signal. This valuable clue is not available if only a single microphone is used to obtain the first audio signal. It is only available through the use of two microphones, and VAD 1320 can use this energy ratio to improve its accuracy of voice activity detection.
  • VI. Alternative Embodiments of the Present Invention
  • In an example alternative embodiment (not shown), signal processor 420 includes both a background noise cancellation module and a noise suppressor. In this embodiment, the background noise cancellation module cancels at least a portion of a background noise component included in the first audio signal based on the content of the second audio signal to produce a third audio signal. Then the noise suppressor receives the second and third audio signals and suppresses at least a portion of a residual background noise component present in the third audio signal based on the content of the second audio signal and the third audio signal, in like manner to that described above. The noise suppressor then provides a fourth audio signal to the remaining components and/or processing steps, as described above.
  • In another alternative example embodiment, a transmit path having a first and second microphone can include a signal processor (similar to signal processor 420) and a VAD (similar to VAD 1320). A person having ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that a signal processor can precede a VAD in a transmit path, or vice versa. In addition, a signal processor and a VAD can process the outputs of the two microphones contemporaneously. For illustrative purposes, and not limitation, an embodiment in which a signal processor precedes a VAD in a transmit path having two microphones is described in more detail below.
  • In this illustrative embodiment, a signal processor increases a ratio of a voice component to a background noise component of a first audio signal based on the content of at least one of the first audio signal and a second audio signal to produce a third audio signal (similar to the function of signal processor 420 described in detail above). The third audio signal is then received by a VAD. The VAD also receives a second audio signal output by a second microphone (e.g., second microphone 202). In a similar manner to that described in detail above, the VAD detects time intervals in which a voice component is present in the third signal based on the content of the second audio signal and the third audio signal.
  • In a still further embodiment, a VAD can precede a noise suppressor, in a transmit path having two microphones. In this embodiment, the VAD receives a first audio signal and a second audio signal output by a first microphone and a second microphone, respectively, to detect time intervals in which a voice component is present in the first audio signal based on the content of the first and second audio signals, in like manner to that described above. The noise suppressor receives the first and second audio signals and suppresses a background noise component in the first audio signal based on the content of the first audio signal and the second audio signal, in like manner to that described above.
  • VII. Conclusion
  • A wireless telephone implemented with at least two microphones has been disclosed. Specific reference to a wireless telephone having two microphones was presented for illustrative purposes only, and not limitation. It will be apparent to a person having ordinary skill in the art that other types of telephones (e.g., corded telephones, corded telephone headsets, and/or BLUETOOTH ™ telephone headsets, developed by Bluetooth SIG, Inc. of Overland Park, Kans., U.S.A. ) could be implemented with a first and second microphone. In the example of the corded telephone headset, the first microphone could be mounted on the headset and the second microphone could be mounted on a handset of the telephone. For example, the second microphone could be mounted on the telephone in like manner to either microphone 201 or microphone 202 of wireless telephone 200. As another example, a BLUETOOTH ™ wireless telephone headset can have a first microphone mounted at the tip of its microphone boom close to the mouth of a user and a second microphone mounted at its base, which is supported near one of the user's ears by a hook over the ear lobe. It is to be appreciated that these other types of telephones and/or headsets implemented with a first and second microphone are contemplated within the scope of the present invention.
  • The specifications and the drawings used in the foregoing description were meant for exemplary purposes only, and not limitation. It is intended that the full scope and spirit of the present invention be determinedly the claims that follow.

Claims (28)

1. A wireless telephone, comprising:
a first microphone that outputs a first audio signal, the first audio signal comprising a voice component and a background noise component;
a second microphone that outputs a second audio signal; and
a signal processor that increases a ratio of the voice component to the noise component of the first audio signal based on the content of at least one of the first audio signal and the second audio signal to produce a third audio signal.
2. The wireless telephone of claim 1, wherein the first microphone is mounted on a first portion of the wireless telephone and the second microphone is mounted on a second portion of the wireless telephone such that the first microphone is closer to the mouth of a user than the second microphone during regular use of the wireless telephone.
3. The wireless telephone of claim 1, wherein the signal processor comprises a background noise cancellation module that receives the first and second audio signals and cancels at least a portion of the background noise component of the first audio signal based on the content of the second audio signal to produce the third audio signal.
4. The wireless telephone of claim 3, wherein the background noise cancellation module comprises:
an adaptive filter that filters the second audio signal; and
an adder that adds the filtered second audio signal to the first audio signal, thereby canceling at least a portion of the background noise component of the first audio signal.
5. The wireless telephone of claim 3, further comprising:
a first analog-to-digital (A/D) converter connected to the first microphone that converts the first audio signal from an analog form to a digital form prior to receipt of the first audio signal by the background noise cancellation module; and
a second A/D converter connected to the second microphone that converts the second audio signal from an analog form to a digital form prior to receipt of the second audio signal by the background noise cancellation module.
6. The wireless telephone of claim 5, wherein the first and second A/D converters sample the respective first and second audio signals at a first sampling rate before providing the first and second audio signals to the background noise cancellation module; and
wherein the background noise cancellation module includes a downsampler that down samples the third audio signal to a second sampling rate, wherein the second sampling rate is lower than the first sampling rate.
7. The wireless telephone of claim 3, wherein the signal processor further comprises a noise suppressor that receives the second and third audio signals and suppresses at least a portion of a residual background noise component of the third audio signal based on the content of the second audio signal and the third audio signal to produce a fourth audio signal.
8. The wireless telephone of claim 7, wherein the noise suppressor suppresses at least a portion of the residual background noise component by adapting a frequency spectrum corresponding to the third audio signal.
9. The wireless telephone of claim 3, further comprising:
an adaptive filter that filters the third audio signal to produce a fourth audio signal;
an adder that adds the second audio signal to the fourth audio signal thereby canceling at least a portion of a voice component from the second audio signal to produce a fifth audio signal; and
a noise suppressor that receives the third audio signal and the fifth audio signal and suppresses at least a portion of a residual background noise component of the third audio signal based on the content of the third audio signal and the fifth audio signal to produce a sixth audio signal.
10. The wireless telephone of claim 1, wherein the signal processor comprises a noise suppressor that receives the first and second audio signals and suppresses at least a portion of the background noise component of the first audio signal based on the content of the first audio signal and the second audio signal to produce the third audio signal.
11. The wireless telephone of claim 1, further comprising:
a voice activity detector (VAD) that receives the second and third audio signals and detects time intervals in which a voice component is present in the third audio signal based on the content of the second audio signal and the third audio signal.
12. The wireless telephone of claim 11, wherein the VAD provides input to a transmitter relating to the time intervals in which a voice component is present in the third audio signal; and
wherein the transmitter selectively transmits the third audio signal to another telephone responsive to the input.
13. The wireless telephone of claim 11, wherein the VAD detects the time intervals by monitoring an energy ratio of the second audio signal and the third audio signal.
14. A method for processing audio signals in a wireless telephone having a first microphone and a second microphone, comprising:
outputting a first audio signal from the first microphone, the first audio signal comprising a voice component and a background noise component;
outputting a second audio signal from the second microphone; and
increasing a ratio of the voice component to the noise component of the first audio signal based on the content of at least one of the first audio signal and the second audio signal to produce a third audio signal.
15. The method of claim 14, wherein the increasing step comprises:
canceling at least a portion of the background noise component of the first audio signal based on the content of the second audio signal to produce the third audio signal.
16. The method of claim 15, wherein canceling at least a portion of the background noise component of the first audio signal based on the content of the second audio signal comprises:
filtering the second audio signal using an adaptive filter; and
adding the filtered second audio signal to the first audio signal, thereby canceling at least a portion of the background noise component of the first audio signal.
17. The method of claim 15, further comprising:
converting each of the first and second audio signals from an analog form to a digital form prior to the canceling step.
18. The method of claim 17, wherein converting each of the first and second audio signals from an analog form to a digital form comprises sampling the first and second audio signals at a first sampling rate, and wherein the method further comprises downsampling the third audio signal to a second sampling rate, wherein the second sampling rate is lower than the first sampling rate.
19. The method of claim 14, wherein the increasing step comprises:
suppressing at least a portion of the background noise component of the first audio signal based on the content of the first audio signal and the second audio signal to produce the third audio signal.
20. The method of claim 15, further comprising:
suppressing at least a portion of a residual background noise component of the third audio signal based on the content of the second audio signal and the third audio signal to produce a fourth audio signal.
21. The method of claim 20, wherein the suppressing step comprises suppressing at least a portion of the residual background noise component by adapting a frequency spectrum corresponding to the third audio signal.
22. The method of claim 14, further comprising:
detecting time intervals in which a voice component is present in the third audio signal based on the content of the second audio signal and the third audio signal.
23. The method of claim 22, further comprising:
selectively transmitting the third audio signal to another telephone during the time intervals in which a voice component is present in the third audio signal.
24. A corded telephone, comprising:
a first microphone that outputs a first audio signal, the first audio signal comprising a voice component and a background noise component;
a second microphone that outputs a second audio signal; and
a signal processor that increases a ratio of the voice component to the noise component of the first audio signal based on the content of at least one of the first audio signal and the second audio signal to produce a third audio signal.
25. A headset telephone, comprising:
a headset having a first microphone that outputs a first audio signal, the first audio signal comprising a voice component and a background noise component; and
a handset having a second microphone that outputs a second audio signal and a signal processor that receives the first and the second audio signals and increases a ratio of the voice component to the noise component of the first audio signal based on the content of at least one of the first audio signal and the second audio signal to produce a third audio signal.
26. A headset telephone, comprising:
a headset having a first microphone that outputs a first audio signal, the first audio signal comprising a voice component and a background noise component, and the headset having a second microphone that outputs a second audio signal; and
a handset having a signal processor that receives the first and the second audio signals and increases a ratio of the voice component to the noise component of the first audio signal based on the content of at least one of the first audio signal and the second audio signal to produce a third audio signal.
27. A headset telephone, comprising:
a headset having a first microphone that outputs a first audio signal, the first audio signal comprising a voice component and a background noise component, and the headset having a second microphone that outputs a second audio signal; and
the headset having a signal processor that receives the first and the second audio signals and increases a ratio of the voice component to the noise component of the first audio signal based on the content of at least one of the first audio signal and the second audio signal to produce a third audio signal.
28. The telephone of claim 27, wherein the headset is a BLUETOOTH™ headset.
US11/018,921 2004-12-22 2004-12-22 Wireless telephone having multiple microphones Abandoned US20060133621A1 (en)

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US11/018,921 US20060133621A1 (en) 2004-12-22 2004-12-22 Wireless telephone having multiple microphones
US11/065,131 US20060135085A1 (en) 2004-12-22 2005-02-24 Wireless telephone with uni-directional and omni-directional microphones
US11/135,491 US7983720B2 (en) 2004-12-22 2005-05-24 Wireless telephone with adaptive microphone array
US11/215,304 US8509703B2 (en) 2004-12-22 2005-08-31 Wireless telephone with multiple microphones and multiple description transmission
US11/239,351 US20060147063A1 (en) 2004-12-22 2005-09-30 Echo cancellation in telephones with multiple microphones
DE200560014535 DE602005014535D1 (en) 2004-12-22 2005-10-13 Wireless phone that has two microphones
EP20050022377 EP1675365B1 (en) 2004-12-22 2005-10-13 Wireless telephone having two microphones
EP05026022A EP1675366A1 (en) 2004-12-22 2005-11-29 Wireless telephone having two microphones
CN 200510137075 CN100588210C (en) 2004-12-22 2005-12-19 Wireless telephone and method for processing audio single in the wireless telephone
CN 200510135860 CN100588209C (en) 2004-12-22 2005-12-20 Telephone and method for processing audio single in the telephone
TW94145524A TWI323118B (en) 2004-12-22 2005-12-21 Wireless telephone with uni-directional and omni-directional microphones
TW094145526A TW200642428A (en) 2004-12-22 2005-12-21 Wireless telephone having multiple microphones
US11/653,858 US20070116300A1 (en) 2004-12-22 2007-01-17 Channel decoding for wireless telephones with multiple microphones and multiple description transmission
US12/432,302 US8948416B2 (en) 2004-12-22 2009-04-29 Wireless telephone having multiple microphones

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