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INESC TEC was granted its first patent in Japan

After the United States, Japan approved the patent request concerning the technology “Sound Processing Device, Sound Processing Method, and Sound Processing Program”, granted with the number JP2014052630. It is the first time that INESC TEC has one of its own technologies under patent protection in Japanese territory.

The person responsible for this invention, which intends to innovate the way robots and humans interact through sound and body language, is senior INESC TEC researcher João Lobato Oliveira, of the Centre for Telecommunications and Multimedia (CTM). The researcher started to study the development of hearing methods for robots capable of processing musical signals captured live when he was still a PhD student at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto and a researcher at INESC TEC.

Two internships at the Honda Research Institute – Japan helped perfect the method that allows the optimisation and mediation of the “hearing capability” of a robot during an interaction with a human being, through speech and dance and to the sound of music. After applying the method, it was possible to test the way robots can communicate with humans, dimensioning their behaviour in such a way they can dare to, in fact, interact.

This technology significantly increases the capability of a robot to interpret with higher precision human speech while, at the same time, being able to answer humans through speech and “effectively processing musical signals while synchronizing dance movements”, explains João Lobato Oliveira.

This innovation has applications in robotics and in the improvement of capabilities in humanoid robots capable of serving and complementing human actions, namely in teaching, safety and prevention.

In addition to João Lobato Oliveira, six other researchers are registered as the inventors of this technology. Two are from INESC TEC: Luís Paulo Reis (Centre for Robotics in Industry and Intelligent Systems) and Fabien Gouyon (previous researcher at CTM). The ownership rights are divided between INESC TEC, the University of Porto and Honda Motor Co.

The researchers mentioned in this news piece are associated with UPorto.