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Publication numberUS3730995 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMay 1, 1973
Filing dateNov 16, 1971
Priority dateNov 16, 1971
Publication numberUS 3730995 A, US 3730995A, US-A-3730995, US3730995 A, US3730995A
InventorsMathews M
Original AssigneeBell Telephone Labor Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Voice switched microphone control system
US 3730995 A
Abstract
Voice activated control apparatus selectively connects one of a plurality of microphones to an audio line and inhibits all other microphones from capturing the line while the initial connection is maintained. Each microphone is connected to an associated speech detector and relay. In response to voice signals from a microphone, the associated speech detector activates a relay which connects the microphone to the line and generates a signal which inhibits the other relays. Other users cannot interrupt the present speaker because their relays remain inhibited as long as the speaker continues. The same circuitry can accommodate any number of microphones.
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Write Sttes Patet [191 athews 1451 May 1, 1973 VONIE SWITCHED MICROPHONE OTHER PUBLICATIONS CONTROL SYSTEM IBM Technical Disclosure Bulletin, Vol. 5, No. ll, [75] Inventor: Max Vernon Mathews, New April 1963, p. 79.

Providence, NJ. 1

[73] Assignee: Bell Telephone Laboratories, Incor- Prl',"a'yExaml' 1er Kathleen Claffy porated Murray Hill, Assistant Examiner-Douglas W. Olms Atl0rney-R. J. Guenther et'al. [22] Filed: Nov. 16, I971 211 App]. No.: 199,228 [571 ABSTRACT Voice activated control apparatus selectively connects 52 us. (:1. ..179/1 vc, 179/1 CN one of a plurality of microphones to on audio line and 51 1111. C1. ..(;101 1/04 inhibits all other microphones from Capturing the line [58] Field of Search ..179/1 CN, 1 vc, 1 HF, while the initial connection is maintained Each 179/30 3 32 33; 340 3 415 295 217 microphone is connected to an associated speech detector and relay. In response to voice signals from a [56] References Cit d microphone, theassociated speech detector activates a relay which connects the microphone to the line and UNITED STATES PATENTS generates a signal'which inhibits the other relays. 3,524,929 8/1970 Bums et al... ..179/1 CN other users cannot interrupt the Present Speaker 3 555 190 1 971 Braun 79 1 because their relays remain inhibited as long as the 3,437,758 4/1969 Clement... ....l79/1CN speaker continues. The same circuitry can aecom- 3,590,281 6/1971 Russell ..340/4l5 modate any number of microphones. 3,155,776 11/1964 Kano 6131.... .....179/32 2,928,905 3/1960 Kelnhofer l79/33 1 Claim, 1 Drawing Figure sDi J *\"H[ 1 SPEFCHlAi 9' 6" u 1 oErtcioRT Xi 1 I i PWi Li W1 5 AUDIO L [AUDIO [INF 10 011 1 1 T H ((JJNIROI. LINF 14 '1 Ml/V111 12 Joovvl R 4 {SOL/FILE mm/N0 15 i,

BUS 1 Patehted May 1, 1973 3,730,995

MICROPHONE uNIT I I I %RI MI SPEECH I Bl 3 WIIAA DETECTOR XI i' M Y T LII WI B MICROPHONE uNIT 2 w j SDZ) R2 6) sPEECR A21 E 2 I Z I OETECTOR N x2 m I L2) T WEI-B l l I l l l I MICROPHONE UNIT I 513i) RI Q .SPEECH AI, P; Q' I'Z DETECTOR IN Xi W l Wi T Li 1 7 WW AUDIO )1 p (AUDIO LINE IO OUTPUT O (CONTROL LINE [4 (POWER l2 POWER SOURCE {GROUND 51 [I3 IausI VOICE SWITCHED MICROPHONE CONTROL SYSTEM FIELD OF THE INVENTION speech circuits to an audio line in response to voice signals.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION In classrooms and auditoriums it has been customary to employ a number of microphones in various locations within the room in' orderthat questions and comments by members of the audience may be heard by others. The voice signals input into the microphones are amplified and conveyed through loud speakers to the immediate audience. If desired, the signals may also be transmitted to select individuals via the telephone system, or to' the public at large via the broadcast media.

In such systems, difficulties arise when more than one user speaks at the same time. Since all the microphones have equal access to a central amplifying system, more than one' set of voice signals is concurrently amplified. Thus, an unintelligible combination of speech is often transmitted to the audience. To avoidthis difficulty, human monitors are often employed to insure that only one member of the audience is afforded access to a microphone at a given time. I

In order to overcome this problem, other systems employ sophisticated speech detectors and complicated logical gating arrangements to first determine which micro-phones are being used and then to selectively connect one of these microphones to the audio line. The selection is made by comparing signal strengths in a centralized logic arrangement. The microphone used by the loudest talker is connected to the line. Such systems are a great improvement over those previously used since the speechofa single user rather than from a multitude of users is conveyed to the audience at a given time. However, since the loudest user gains access to the audio line even if he interrupts one who is presently talking, there is a great tendency for an anxious questioner to interruptthe present user before he has concluded his discussion. It is conceivable that a shouting match might develop when several users, each wishing to be heard, speak successively louder in order to capture the systemsoutput.

Furthermore, since these systems are fairly complex, they are not as flexible as prior systems since the central logic has to be altered when a microphone is added to the system. Such alterations require adding additional logic.

It is an object of this invention to selectively connect a' microphone to an audio line in response to voice signals and to inhibit all other microphones from capturing the line as long as the present speaker continues to speak.

It is a further object of this invention to connect or disconnect any number of microphones from the system without either interrupting system operation or requiring an alteration in system logic.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention stems from the recognition that by decentralizing the decision making apparatus the versatility of simpler microphone systems is retained while gaining an additional inhibiting feature. Each microphone is connected to an associated device which autonomously determines whether to connect that microphone to the audio line given the information specifying whether one of the other microphones ispresently connected to the line.

In accordance with one illustrative embodiment of the principles of this invention, control apparatus selec- I fering with the operationof'the other modules.

When a user speaks into his microphone, the associated speech detector detects the speech and activates the associated relay. The relay connects the microphone to the audio line and grounds a control line which inhibits the other relays. As long as the user continues talking, his microphone remains connected to the audio line and the other relays are deactivated by the grounded control line. When the user completes his talk, his microphone is disconnected from the audio line and the ground is removed from the control line. Other users are then able to capture the audio line. The speech detectors have a built-in time delay to bridge the pauses between spoken words.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION The single FIGURE is a schematic block diagram of an illustrative microphone control system embodying the principles of this invention. When spoken into, each of the microphones M M,- bids for access to audio line 10. When a microphone is subsequently connected to the audio line, the voice signals input into the microphone are conveyed to amplifier 11 which amplifies the signals for transmission and subsequent conversion toaudible speech. The other microphones are inhibited from capturing the audio iine while the initial connection is maintained.

Each of microphones M is connected to an associatedspeech detector SD SD Each of speech detectors SD comprises filters for distinguishing voice frequencies and a logical arrangement for outputting a predetermined positive voltage over its respective output lead A A, when it detects speech. When no speech is detected, each of the speech detectors grounds its respective output lead A. To allow for pauses which occur in normal speech, each of the speech detectors has sufficient hysteresis so that the output signals remain at the positive voltage during gap between words.

' is a self-contained module which may be easily plugged in or out of bus 1. The bus may be positioned along an SPECIFIC DESCRIPTION The operation of the control system shown in the Figure is best understood by considering three illustrative cases. In the first case, voice signals are input into one of the microphones at a time when all of the microphones are disconnected from the audio line. In the second situation, a microphone user attempts to access the line while another microphone remains connected to the line. Finally, a microphone connected to the line is disconnected when voice signals are no longer input into the microphone.

Turning now to the first situation, all of the microphones M are disconnected from audio line 10. Since speech is not detected by any of speech detectors SD, output leads A are all at ground potential. Current flows from power source 13 over power line 12 through each of resistors R,, R,- and through each of diodes D,, D, to ground (via output leads A). Diodes D are forward biased and each of the points X,, X, is at a voltage equal to the voltage drop across its respective diode D (normally about 0.7 volts). Diodes DA,, DA, are substantially not in conduction and control line 14 floats.

The user of microphone M, wishing to capture the audio line speaks into his microphone. Speech detector SD, in response to the voice signals places a positive potential on the previously grounded lead A,. The positive potential reverse biases diodes D,. The current from resistor R, flows through relay winding W activating the relay. Relay contact W, -B closes connecting microphone M, to audio line 10 via line L,, Contacts W, -A also operate both disconnecting diode DA, from control line 14 and grounding control line 14. As long as speech detector SD, detects speech from microphone M,, a positive potential is conveyed over lead A, and relay W, remains operative.

While control line 14 remains grounded by relay W,, the other relays W W, are inhibited from operating. Current flows through resistors R R, through forward biased diodes DA DA, to grounded control line 14. Thus points X X, are slightly above ground potential and insufficient current flows through relay windings W W, to activate these relays.

Now consider the second situation which illustrates the inhibiting feature of the control system. The user of microphone M speaks into his microphone and attempts to interrupt the user of microphone M, who has previously captured audio line 10. Speech detector SD in response to the voice signals from microphone M places a positive potential on lead A reverse biasing diodes D Relay W does not operate because point X still remains just above ground potential because diode DA is forward biased through relay contact W -A to grounded control line 14. Control line 14 remains grounded by the continuin activation of relay W, in response to speech signals rom microphone Thus,

as long as control line 14 remains grounded in response to voice signals from a microphone, all the other microphones are inhibited from capturing audio line 10 since their associated relays are inhibited from operating.

In the third case, the user of microphone M, completes talking and thereby relinquishes his grasp over audio line 10. Speech detector SD,, when it no longer detects voice signals from microphone M,, grounds lead A,. Diode D, goes into forward conduction, the voltage at point X, drops, and relay W, deactivates due to insufficient current through relay winding W,. Relay contacts W,-A and W,-B return to their normal positions. Relay contact W,-B opens disconnecting microphone M, from audio line 10. Control line 14 floats when contact W,-A disconnects the ground from the line. Now each of the users of microphone M is afforded an equal opportunity to access audio line 10.

What is claimed is:

1. A voice activated switching system for selectively connecting one of a plurality of speech circuits to an output line and for inhibiting the connection of all others of said speech circuits to the line while the connection is maintained, which comprises:

a plurality of circuits for conveying speech,

a speech detector associated with each of said circuits for generating a first signal coincident with speech signals applied from that one of said speech circuits associated therewith,

an output line for conveying speech,

generating means for developing control signals,

switching means associated with each of said speech circuits and its associated speech detector wherein each of said switching means is deactivated by control signals and activated, in the absence of said control signals, by said first signal generated by said associated speech detector,

a control line connected to each of said switching means for conveying control signals, and

switching contacts associated with each of said switching means which when activated by said associated switching means connect with associated speech circuit to said output line, disconnect said associated switching means from said control line, and connect said generating means to said control line.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2928905 *May 5, 1958Mar 15, 1960Gen Dynamics CorpControl system for parallel-coupled communication stations
US3155776 *Apr 19, 1960Nov 3, 1964Nippon Electric CoParty line sub-station
US3437758 *Jul 29, 1966Apr 8, 1969Bell Telephone Labor IncConference telephone system
US3524929 *Jun 29, 1967Aug 18, 1970Automatic Elect LabTelephone conference circuit
US3555190 *Jan 25, 1968Jan 12, 1971Television Radio And Film CommAutomatic telephone conference connector
US3590281 *Jul 14, 1969Jun 29, 1971Electrohome LtdElectronic latching networks employing elements having positive temperature coefficients of resistance
Non-Patent Citations
Reference
1 *IBM Technical Disclosure Bulletin, Vol. 5, No. 11, April 1963, p. 79.
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3897592 *May 11, 1973Jul 29, 1975Walker Billy EVoice-operated transmit system
US4006309 *Oct 20, 1975Feb 1, 1977The United States Of America As Represented By The Secretary Of The NavyVoice operated relay
US4099025 *Sep 27, 1976Jul 4, 1978Kahn Leonard RMethods and means for avoiding false indications of activity in a multimicrophone system
US4139731 *Sep 12, 1977Feb 13, 1979Wescom, Inc.Telephone conference system with active analog conference
US4302749 *Jun 27, 1979Nov 24, 1981Erkki YlonenAutomatic firing for clay pigeon launcher
US4449238 *Mar 25, 1982May 15, 1984Bell Telephone Laboratories, IncorporatedVoice-actuated switching system
US4696032 *Feb 26, 1985Sep 22, 1987Siemens Corporate Research & Support, Inc.Voice switched gain system
US5259035 *Aug 2, 1991Nov 2, 1993Knowles Electronics, Inc.Automatic microphone mixer
US5426510 *Jun 5, 1992Jun 20, 1995Dolman Associates, Inc.Audio-video system
US5615380 *Apr 9, 1991Mar 25, 1997Hyatt; Gilbert P.Integrated circuit computer system having a keyboard input and a sound output
US7472058 *Dec 28, 2004Dec 30, 2008Cyberlink Corp.Automatic audio source detection for capture devices
US20130219525 *Feb 16, 2012Aug 22, 2013Aviv SofferSecure audio peripheral device
EP0004182A2 *Mar 7, 1979Sep 19, 1979The Post OfficeImprovements in or relating to audio teleconferencing
WO1983003512A1 *Feb 2, 1983Oct 13, 1983Western Electric CoA voice-actuated switching system
WO2011053428A1 *Sep 30, 2010May 5, 2011General Instrument CorporationVoice detection for triggering of call release
Classifications
U.S. Classification381/110, 704/E11.3
International ClassificationG10L11/00, G10L11/02
Cooperative ClassificationG10L25/78
European ClassificationG10L25/78