A software is being developed by scientists that can alter speech before it is broadcast over speakers, making it much more audible and clearer amid background noise.
In a bid to improve current synthetic voice technology, researchers studied how speech was perceived by listeners. They carried out tests to pinpoint the components of speech that are most easily heard by people in a noisy place.
Experts at the University of Edinburgh, who carried out the study, said that in loud situations, listeners pay most attention the parts of speech that are easiest to hear, and use those to decipher what is being said.
Researchers developed a mathematical computer program to analyze spoken words and enhance the sounds that help listeners hear what is being said, to make speech better understood overall.
In tests, the manipulated speech was found to be much easier to understand than natural speech. In some cases, the improvement was the equivalent of lowering noise by five decibels.
Scientists said that the techniques used in this study could also be used to improve smartphone voices, loudspeaker announcements or sat-nav systems.