Microsoft Patents Live Audio Censoring

Gamers May Get to Keep Their Accounts

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Microsoft filed a patent application several years ago for the censoring of real-time audio streams, and that patent has now been granted. In other words, Microsoft has patented live "bleeping". The patent abstract says:

An input audio data stream comprising speech is processed by an automatic censoring filter in either a real-time mode, or a batch mode, producing censored speech that has been altered so that undesired words or phrases are either unintelligible or inaudible. The automatic censoring filter employs a lattice comprising either phonemes and/or words derived from phonemes for comparison against corresponding phonemes or words included in undesired speech data. If the probability that a phoneme or word in the input audio data stream matches a corresponding phoneme or word in the undesired speech data is greater than a probability threshold, the input audio data stream is altered so that the undesired word or a phrase comprising a plurality of such words is unintelligible or inaudible. The censored speech can either be stored or made available to an audience in real-time.

Jonathan M. Gitlin at Ars Technica points out the usefulness of such a feature when it comes to online gaming. "As PC gamers have known for a long time, and Xbox gamers have known for a while, playing against other humans online is a much more enjoyable experience than beating a computer. Thanks to the advent of teamspeak, you can game with others as if they were in your living room, without having to worry about them knocking their drinks over and staining the carpet," he says. "However, the somewhat anonymous nature of the internet means you also encounter individuals who lack the sort of internal filter that prevents most of us from blurting out streams of profanity that would make Mr. Tourette blush."

This is one area where such a patent would come in handy. People get banned or suspended from online gaming serivces for profanity all the time, so technically, this could work out well even for the offenders, in that a slip of the tongue will not get them thrown off. That way (in the Xbox case) Microsoft can continue to make money off them too. It sounds like a win-win situation. 

It will be interesting to see how this is implemented in other facets of media as well. Live television obviously comes to mind. Award shows? Sporting events? Sounds like a good reason to start featuring live audio from players during games. That would make things pretty interesting wouldn’t it? I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon, but I’d love to see it. Imagine hearing Chad Ocho Cinco sound off after a touchdown catch (or a drop).

Microsoft Patents Live Audio Censoring
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