Because of the pandemic period, you know that web video conferencing systems have become very popular with working from home. Although Zoom is dominating the market, Google is also one of those who want to increase it’s market share. It aims to add new features to its platform day by day. Thanks to noise canceling feature recently added to Google Meet, Google seems to have made an innovation in this area.
In April 2020, Google announced that Meet’s noise canceling feature is available for G Suite Enterprise and G Suite Enterprise for Education. We should also point out that the father of the idea of this feature is G Suite Product Management Director Serge Lachapelle. Serge Lachapelle has worked on video conferencing technologies for 25 years, (13 of which are on Google) and he is quite experienced.
Beginning of the Project
Basically, this project starts with acquisition of Limes Audio in January 2017. The main idea arises from the difficulties experienced in the meetings held with the participants in different time zones (sounds of children and pets of home workers, breakfast sounds, etc.).
How to Prevent Noise in Google Meet?
Maybe there are those who use it, some headphones and smartphones have noise canceling mechanisms that use multiple microphones. This method basically works by extracting the sound signal received from far end microphone than the sound signal received from main microphone. The feature offered in Google Meet is implemented using a completely cloud-based infrastructure and machine learning, independent of user device.
A machine learning model (denoiser) needs to be trained to find out what is speech and what is not speech, to understand the difference between noise and speech, and then to filter only speech. Serge and his team use their own meetings to train the model, then the algorithm is matured by Youtube videos which includes many people and then manual verification methods. Ultimately, the system can intelligently filter background distractions such as dog barking, pen clicking and much more.
As you can see in the video below, while talking, Serge shows how the feature works by making noise with things like a nut bag, a pen and a glass-spoon. Non-routine noises are heard loud as soon as they start, but over time these noises are damped:
As you can appreciate, your voice needs to be listened by Google in order to use a noise canceling system with artificial intelligence. The voice encrypted by the user is decoded and analyzed in Google data centers, and the filtered voice is also encrypted and transmitted to the users. Although the analysis of the sound by listening is a question mark on the part of the user, it is stated that this analysis is made only within denoiser. I think that it is very important to realize these transactions in a short time, especially for real-time communications.
To activate this feature, just click the three dots on the bottom right during the meeting and activate Noise cancellation from Settings:
The method of processing data in the center (in the cloud), which is a method that Google loves, and leaving the user side more lean, has also emerged in another area. For now, this service, which is still limited to G Suite Enterprise and G Suite Enterprise for Education customers, will be available to all Google Meet users soon. In the future, I think that Google may offer it to other service providers as a cloud service.