While this covid-19 pandemic has more of us working from home, some of us might still be getting used to video conferencing, or at least talking into a headset or our laptop with a built-in microphone. The sound of our teeth grinding down pretzels, chips, or anything else that goes ‘crunch,’ when made directly into a microphone, can sound like you are chewing right next to someone’s ear. Not pleasant under normal circumstances, but especially unpleasant if you have Misophonia (when certain sounds trigger a physical or emotional response). There’s nothing worse than trying to give a remote presentation or trying to wind down with a game of Overwatch when your eardrums are attacked out of nowhere.
Microsoft wants to change that, though. According to CNET, it’s currently developing AI technology that can “can identify your voice and filter out any other sounds.” Not only would you not hear someone munching on chips, but leaf blowers, dogs barking, fire truck sirens, cars honking, recess time at the school across the street—any background noise that usually gets picked up by a microphone will no longer be an issue either. Microsoft calls it “real-time noise suppression.”
Microphones like the Blue Yeti X are notorious for being too sensitive. Even headsets that have “noise-canceling mics” aren’t totally immune from the sounds of you snacking. But according to CNET, in a demonstration earlier this week by Microsoft’s principal program manager Robert Aichner, Microsoft’s tech completely removed the sound of Aicher digging through a bag of chips. You can see a video of this in action over on CNET, and it actually works. Through Aichner’s headset, you can clearly hear the rustling before he applies the filter. After he applies the filter, the noise is gone. Not suppressed. Completely gone.
Unfortunately, this is not a feature that you can apply to any chat program like Zoom or Discord. It’s just for Microsoft Teams and will be available later this year. Until then, and for everyone else using a different chat platform, please remember to mute your mics.