Researchers Use AI s to Help Earbud Users Mute Background Noise

Thanks to earbuds you can have calls anywhere while doing anything. The problem: those on the other end of the call hear it all, too, from your roommate’s vacuum cleaner to background conversations at the cafe you’re working from.

Now, work by a trio of graduate students at the University of Washington who spent the pandemic cooped up together in a noisy apartment, lets those on the other end of the call hear just you — rather than all the stuff going on around you.

Users found that the system, dubbed “ClearBuds” — presented last month at the ACM International Conference on Mobile Systems, Applications, and Services — improved background noise suppression much better than a commercially available alternative.

AI Podcast host Noah Kravtiz caught up with the team behind ClearBuds to talk about the unlikely pandemic-time origin story behind a technology that promises to make our calls clearer and easier, wherever we go.

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