What is SPRAAK ?
THE SPRAAK SOFTWARE
SPRAAK (Speech Processing, Recognition and Automatic Annotation Kit; "spraak" is also the Dutch word for "speech") is an open source speech recognition package. It is an efficient and flexible tool that combines many of the recent advancements in automatic speech recognition with a very efficient decoder in a proven HMM architecture.
SPRAAK serves several purposes. The first one is a highly modular toolkit for research into speech recognition algorithms. It allows researchers to focus on one particular aspect of speech recognition technology without needing to worry about the details of the other components. The second goal is a state-of-the art recognizer with a simple interface, so that it can be used by non-specialists with a minimum of programming requirements. Next to speech recognition, the resulting software enables applications in related fields as well. Examples are linguistic and phonetic research where the software can be used to segment large speech databases or to provide high quality automatic transcriptions.
CURRENT VERSION & HISTORY
The current release is V1.0, released on December 7, 2010.
The previous version V0.9 was released in August 2009.
Release notes can be found here, as well as an important note about downloading the new version.
THE SPRAAK PROJECT
SPRAAK was derived from the HMM package that has been developed for over 15 years at ESAT, KULeuven and which has been in use by a number of other institutions for several years. However, typical of organically grown software, the learning curve was rather steep and documentation below par. Therefore a project was undertaken to convert the old HMM package into the new SPRAAK toolkit. This conversion had two goals.The conversion was undertaken in the SPRAAK project with partners from other institutes (Radboud University Nijmegen, Twente University, TNO). The project was funded by the STEVIN programme from the Dutch Language Union. The software received a major overhaul, and the main weaknesses were addressed, while simultaneously modernizing the code base. We also found this to be an ideal moment to open up the code to the community at large. SPRAAK is distributed as open source for academic usage and at moderate cost for commercial exploitation. All revenues are reserved for future upgrades of the package. All users are encouraged to change the code and to add new functionality and contribute them for inclusion in future updates of SPRAAK.