Company Creates AI Voice Filter That Turns Angry Screams into Calm Speech

A Japanese company has developed an artificial intelligence filter that can detect angry screams and translate them into calm speech in order to reduce the stress experienced by call center operators.

Large tech companies have long been aware of the stress their call center operators are exposed to every single day, with many customers taking out their anger and frustrations on them. Some of them have even introduced stress management programs that include relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga, or therapy meant to irritability and anxiety. However, one Japanese company may have come up with a much more efficient solution – using AI to completely take screaming and aggressive speech out of the equation. SofBank claims to have spent three years creating a voice filter that detects screaming and automatically translates it into calm speech.

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“We developed the emotion suppression system in response to the social problem of customer harassment of call center employees and to protect them, said Soft Bank’s Toshiyuki Nakatani, one of the developers of the innovative AI filter.

SoftBank’s voice filter consists of two stages, one in which the AI identifies an angry voice and extracts key points of speech, and a second where it uses acoustic tools to transform it into a more natural, even polite tone. Interestingly, the filter doesn’t change any of the words spoken by the person, but significantly softens the intonation. The call center operator will still hear any insults uttered, only in a soft tone, which should help reduce their stress and anxiety.

To train the AI, SoftBank’s engineers asked 10 actors to record at least 100 common phrases including screams, accusations, threats, and demands for an apology. In total, more than 10,000 pieces of voice data were used to train the AI filter.

It’s unclear when SoftBank plans to implement the new scream-filtering AI into its call centers, but it will be interesting to see how well it works and how it impacts the emotional wellbeing of operators.

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