Algorithms based on ideophones

Intelligent sound recognition requires a deep knowledge of the ideophonic features of sounds. It is the only way to teach machines how to hear.

By recognising all of the different ideophones, our technology enables our customers to deliver reliable, accurate and helpful experiences to consumers.


Data is the foundation

To teach our technology to recognise sounds, we have to expose it to real-world data. Quantity matters, but it is also about relevance and diversity.

That is why we record audio events and acoustic scenes either in our dedicated Sound Labs, through our network of volunteers, or via our dedicated data collection team.

Alexandria: The world’s largest, commercially-usable audio dataset

Sound recognition was a zero-data problem when we started this journey.

We built Alexandria, a dedicated audio dataset for machine learning, which is used to train our sound recognition algorithms.

All audio data is organised taxonomically with full data provenance built in from the start.

A dedicated machine ‘listening’ framework

We’ve built our own artificial intelligence framework specifically for sound recognition.

It enables us to extract, model and train our technology using the ideophonic alphabet we pioneered, and produce accurate descriptions of each sound, which we call sound profiles.

How are sounds different from speech and music?

Speech recognition and wake words are limited by the type of sounds that the human mouth can produce, as well as conditioned by the communicative structure of human language, which can both be exhaustively mapped.

Similarly, music mostly results from physical resonance, and is conditioned by the rules of various musical genres.

So whilst the human ear and brain are very good at interpreting sounds in spite of acoustic variations, computers were originally designed to process repeatable tasks. Thus, teaching a machine how to recognise speech and music greatly benefits from such pre-defined rules and prior knowledge.

Sounds, on the other hand, can be much more diverse, unbounded and unstructured than speech and music.

Think about a window being smashed, and all the different ways glass shards can hit the floor randomly, without any particular intent or style. Or think about the difference between a long baby cry and a short dog bark, or the relative loudness of a naturally spoken conversation versus an explosive glass crash.

Now you understand why sound recognition required us to develop a special kind of expertise: collecting sound data ourselves and tackling real-world sound recognition problems made us pioneering experts in understanding the full extent of sound variability.

Sound recognition for a wide range of products

Expertise in data collection, the world's leading audio dataset for machine learning and a highly specialised AI framework enable us to create ai3™ - a flexible software platform capable of detecting a large number of sounds in a wide range of devices.

Speech detection

Window glass break

Dog bark

Baby cry


Smoke/CO alarm


Car alarm

Bicycle bell

Car horn


Door knock


Emergency vehicle siren

Intruder alarm





Vehicle reversing alert



Car alarm

Dr Sacha Krstulović speaks at SANE

Watch Sacha's presentation on how sound is not speech, recorded at Google's NYC HQ.

Our patents

Our patent portfolio is a combination of patents covering the uses of sound recognition in products, and also covering a small proportion of the technology techniques we use and have used for our sound recognition.

Latest Tech Talk with Dr Yong Xu

We are sponsoring DCASE 2018

DCASE (Detection and Classification of Acoustic Scenes and Events) is the world’s leading peer-based sound recognition community, encouraging academia and industry to collaborate and share research on the detection and classification of acoustic scenes and events.

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We won ‘Best use of AI for the Senses’ at The Global AI Awards

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