How to Teach DNNs to Pay Attention to the Visual Modality in Speech Recognition

17 Apr 2020  ·  George Sterpu, Christian Saam, Naomi Harte ·

Audio-Visual Speech Recognition (AVSR) seeks to model, and thereby exploit, the dynamic relationship between a human voice and the corresponding mouth movements. A recently proposed multimodal fusion strategy, AV Align, based on state-of-the-art sequence to sequence neural networks, attempts to model this relationship by explicitly aligning the acoustic and visual representations of speech. This study investigates the inner workings of AV Align and visualises the audio-visual alignment patterns. Our experiments are performed on two of the largest publicly available AVSR datasets, TCD-TIMIT and LRS2. We find that AV Align learns to align acoustic and visual representations of speech at the frame level on TCD-TIMIT in a generally monotonic pattern. We also determine the cause of initially seeing no improvement over audio-only speech recognition on the more challenging LRS2. We propose a regularisation method which involves predicting lip-related Action Units from visual representations. Our regularisation method leads to better exploitation of the visual modality, with performance improvements between 7% and 30% depending on the noise level. Furthermore, we show that the alternative Watch, Listen, Attend, and Spell network is affected by the same problem as AV Align, and that our proposed approach can effectively help it learn visual representations. Our findings validate the suitability of the regularisation method to AVSR and encourage researchers to rethink the multimodal convergence problem when having one dominant modality.

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