Updated: Mar 17
Far field voice was an important and valuable development in consumer technology because it enables voice recognition and voice control from a distance. This means that devices like smart speakers, home assistants, and voice-enabled televisions can understand and respond to spoken commands from across the room, and even in a noisy room, without the need for the user to be close to the device.
Far-field voice is also key for ghost hunters when capturing EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon) in the field. Since an EVP is a whisper or murmur, the background noise is often louder than the EVP. Far field voice can zero in on that whisper and block the background noise, making the EVP more prominent with out the use of special audio software.
An EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) refers to an unexplained voice or sound that is captured on an electronic recording device, such as a digital voice recorder or video camera, during a ghost investigation or paranormal research. The theory is that spirits or ghosts are capable of manipulating electronic devices to produce audible sounds that can be recorded and played back later.
What is far-field voice?
Far-field voice recognition is designed to recognize human speech in a noisy environment by using an array of microphones. Noise cancelling and beamforming technology are used to divide the target speech from all the other noise. Artificial intelligence (AI) is at the heart of the voice recognition firmware.
Right away you should recognize this as a tool for capturing EVPs in paranormal investigations.
The microphone array is a series of microphones placed on a circuit board. The microhpnes are connected to a processor that does all the computing.
AI-powered smart speakers are popular devices that use far-field voice recognition. In a noisy room they can immediately pick-up human speech and listen for the key word that activates them. So, yes they are always listening – if you were wondering.
Can you hear me now?
These devices use multiple microphones to reduce the impact of noise. The iPhone, for instance, increases the number of microphones with each generation. Smart speakers use up to seven microphones. They are usually laid out in a hexagonal formation. The delay between the microphones enables the device to identify the source of the voice and cancel out noise coming from other directions. This is called beamforming.
How does far-field pickup work?
Sound is sent to a sensor which converts analog sound into digital 1s and 0s. Then it is processed by a processing microchip, where speech enhancement is applied using AI embedded algorithms. The final result is an enhanced signal that then feeds into a conventional model for speech recognition.
EVPs and Your Ghost Hunting Recorder
I believe far-field voice is the next chapter in paranormal research. The opportunity to clean up noise and focus on human speech is tremendous.
I investigated the possibility of creating a microphone array that could be used with a recorder to capture EVPs. I found some interesting research articles...and then, the holy grail. A plug-and-play far-field microphone array already exists and at a decent price point. For under $70 you can have the power of a far-field voice microphone to plug into your recorder of choice.
Many retailers have this product, including AliExpress, but I found the best price at SeeedStudio.com. The product is called the ReSpeaker USB Mic Array. It will need to be powered up using a USB port, but comes with a line level audio jack that can be plugged into a recorder.