Drives and Controls Magazine
Voice control comes to industrial applications
Published:  21 February, 2022

A German communications specialist has developed a technology that allows industrial processes to be controlled using spoken commands, in a similar way to consumer voice-activation technologies such as Alexa and Siri. Dresden-based Voice Inter Connect expects its vicControl embedded voice control system to be particularly useful in applications where work processes make control difficult, or gloves are needed.

The technology, which supports 30 languages, is said to be easy to integrate, and to meet the highest security and data privacy standards. The voice processing is carried out locally, with no need for an Internet connection.

The technology is available either as a software package for installation in embedded systems based on Arm or X86 processors, or as a kit consisting of hardware and software. It supports functions ranging from activation using a wake word, to recognising voice commands based on Natural Language Understanding. It controls functions in target applications using the MQTT protocol.

AI-based semantic analyses and sophisticated algorithms for beam-forming and noise-cancelling are said to make the technology ease of use in noisy environments. Audio feedback can be generated in the form of prompts or text-to-speech for voice output.

An industrial Alexa: the vicControl go voice control card

As well as the vicControl software, Voice Inter Connect is offering a DSP-based hardware module that can implement voice control in any product. Called vicControl go, the 3 x 6cm board controls devices and systems via a serial interface or GPIO. It can be set up quickly using a PC-based tool and also needs no Internet. Unlike the industrial version, the module is only suitable for single-parameter voice control commands. However, it offers extra controllable GPIOs to combine sensors and actuators with the voice control.