29 January 2012

Christopher Garry is awarded Commonwealth College grant

Christopher Garry, an undergraduate majoring in Computer Systems and Engineering, has been awarded a $1000 grant by the Commonwealth College to study "Larynx Displacement during Speech Utterances." John Kingston's description of Mr Garry's grant follows.

Chris Garry received a $1000 research grant from the Commonwealth College for building a system to record vertical movement of the larynx during speech. Movement is recording using a Casio EX-F1 camera that can capture up to 1200 frames per second, although just 300 fps is more than enough for recording the relatively slow movement of the larynx. The system Chris is building processes these images in Matlab to measure changes in the height of the larynx as the person speaks and synchronizes these measurements with an audio recording of their speech. The height of the larynx in the neck varies directly with the pitch of the speaker's voice -- larynx lowering appears to be the principal mechanism for lowering pitch -- and with their regulation of the volume of the oral cavity to control air pressure inside it -- larynx lowering is at least the second most important means of expanding the oral cavity and reducing pressure. Chris is a computer engineering major who came to the Phonetics Lab last spring with an interest in getting practical research experience. He will present the results of this project at the Undergraduate Research Conference later this spring.