In the Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne creates an array of microphones by hacking millions of cellphones to create a massive surveillance network.
This week Microsoft Research unveiled a similar technology called Project Denmark that allows Microsoft to use the microphones in mobile phones and laptops to create a virtual microphone array which can be used to listen into and transcribe meetings with a high level of accuracy.
The virtual microphone array combines existing devices like mobile phones or laptops equipped with an ordinary microphone like Lego blocks into a single larger array dynamically.
The system is composed of continuous audio stream alignment, blind beamforming, speech recognition, speaker diarization using prior speaker information, and system combination. With seven input audio streams, the system achieves a word error rate of 22.3% and comes within 3% of the close-talking microphone word error rate on the non-overlapping speech segments.
The number of users supported only depends on the number of microphones in the area, and Microsoft notes the technology may allow their customers to more easily transcribe conversations anytime and anywhere, with or without a dedicated microphone array.
Read more about the technology at Microsoft Research here.