Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
SAF Archives  search ask the scientists in the classroom cool science
scientists from previous shows
cool careers in science
ask the scientists

Photo of Nick Campbell NICK CAMPBELL

Nick Campbell started his scientific career at Lancaster University where he was awarded a distinction in Computational Linguistics for his Master's degree after trying his hand (and his patience) at teaching English both in the UK and overseas (Japan and Kuwait). He went on to complete his Ph.D. research at the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Sussex, where his doctoral thesis concerned aspects of timing in speech.

He spent an enjoyable three years as a research fellow at the IBM UK Scientific Centre where he became seriously interested in applying prosodic knowledge to speech synthesis, and after a period as Senior Linguist at the Centre for Speech Technology Research at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, he moved on to ATR in Japan where he is now Head of Department in charge of Speech Synthesis and Prosody Interpretation.

The Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute is home to the Interpreting Telecommunications Research Laboratories where research into real-time speech translation by machine is taking place. His synthesis system, CHATR, is remarkable for being the only such system that does not make use of signal processing, except in the analysis stages. This breakthrough came from an understanding that fine variations in speech sounds can be explained as a consequence of the prosodic and segmental context in which they are found. This means that just by building an index into a large database of speech, his computer is able to retrieve an appropriate sequence of sounds for concatenation into a new speech signal.

His aim is to design a computer that can reproduce human speech on demand, so that he can develop his theories of speech timing by testing different voices and different speaking styles in a scientific way. He has come a long way towards this with the help of many visiting researchers and members of his lab, but as you can hear from the CHATR examples, there is still some way to go before this system can be completely mistaken for a human speaker.

Campbell is co-ordinator of the Speech Synthesis Working Group for COCOSDA, The International Committee for the Co-ordination and Standardisation of Speech Databases and Assessment Techniques for Speech Input/Output, and is currently organising the 3rd International Workshop on Speech Synthesis to be held in Australia in November this year.

© Copyright ATR Interpreting Telecommunications Research Labs 1998

See Nick's answers to Ask the Scientists questions.


Scientific American Frontiers
Fall 1990 to Spring 2000
Sponsored by GTE Corporation,
now a part of Verizon Communications Inc.