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Could you be more kind to me, please? - Polite Voice Assistant/Smart Speaker


Smart speakers (like Amazon Echo, Google Home, etc.) are wireless speakers with built-in voice controlled assistants. They present an opportunity for young generations by stepping them away from the screens.

In their current state in the consumer market, these devices are configured to recognize imperative statements (“e.g., “Turn on the lights!”, “Play Five Little Monkeys!”, etc.) and also to just respond in the same way even if the users yell or scream at them. While the imperative commands enable less ambiguity on the virtual assistant side, the conversation often sounds abrupt or coarse, in contrast to human conversations. This type of interaction can set an inappropriate example to children and may potentially lead them to imitate such language in normal conversations and consequently may lead the children to develop bad/rude manners. This stands as a growing concern by the families. As a step to overcome this concern, this thesis will investigate in incorporating polite manners in current voice assistants.

Kind of work

The proposed research will consists of the following steps:

  • Developing a vocal kindness/aggressiveness classifying module based on acoustic properties of the user’s request
  • Analyzing the user’s verbal politeness by parsing the output of the built-in speech recognition
  • Incorporating a politeness score and a suitable response in accordance with the politeness score
  • Developing a scenario with an existing smart speaker (Amazon Echo, Google Home, etc.) to evaluate the system in an experiment with adults/children
  • Thesis report and presentation

Framework of the Thesis

This thesis is related to the speech processing research track at the audiovisual signal processing group at ETRO.

Number of Students

1 or 2

Expected Student Profile

  • Following a MSc in a field related to one or more of the following: applied computer science, computer science and electrical engineering
  • Interest in voice controlled devices and speech signal processing
  • Good programming skills
  • Interest in designing and performing experiments with humans/children


Prof. Hichem Sahli

+32 (0)2 629 2916

more info


Dr. Selma Yilmazyildiz

+32 (0)2 629 2980

more info


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