Machine listening: Making speech recognition systems more inclusive

One group commonly misunderstood by voice technology are individuals who speak African American English, or AAE. Researchers designed an experiment to test how AAE speakers adapt their speech when imagining talking to a voice assistant, compared to talking to a friend, family member, or stranger. The study tested familiar human, unfamiliar human, and voice assistant-directed speech conditions by comparing speech rate and pitch variation. Analysis of the recordings showed that the speakers exhibited two consistent adjustments when they were talking to voice technology compared to talking to another person: a slower rate of speech with less pitch variation.