Roger K. Moore (1), Ricard Marxer (1) and Serge Thill (2)
(1) Speech and Hearing Research Group, Department of Computer Science, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
(2) Interaction Lab, School of Informatics, University of Skövde, Skövde, Sweden
Frontiers in Robotics and AI
Almost all animals exploit vocal signals for a range of ecologically motivated purposes: detecting predators/prey and marking territory, expressing emotions, establishing social relations, and sharing information. Whether it is a bird raising an alarm, a whale calling to potential partners, a dog responding to human commands, a parent reading a story with a child, or a business-person accessing stock prices using Siri, vocalization provides a valuable communication channel through which behavior may be coordinated and controlled, and information may be distributed and acquired. Indeed, the ubiquity of vocal interaction has led to research across an extremely diverse array of fields, from assessing animal welfare, to understanding the precursors of human language, to developing voice-based human–machine interaction. Opportunities for cross-fertilization between these fields abound; for example, using artificial cognitive agents to investigate contemporary theories of language grounding, using machine learning to analyze different habitats or adding vocal expressivity to the next generation of language-enabled autonomous social agents. However, much of the research is conducted within well-defined disciplinary boundaries, and many fundamental issues remain. This paper attempts to redress the balance by presenting a comparative review of vocal interaction within-and-between humans, animals, and artificial agents (such as robots), and it identifies a rich set of open research questions that may benefit from an interdisciplinary analysis.