CeBIT Open Source 2011 - Project Presentation Simon


During CeBIT 2011 open source projects such as Simon, a free speech recognition solution, will have the opportunity to showcase what is currently in active development.

Short and sweet: How would you describe your project in one or two sentences?

simon is a free speech recognition solution developed by the non-profit research organization simon listens. In contrast to conventional systems, simon is extremely flexible and easily extendable and can therefore also be used for people with speech impairments and the elderly.

When did the project begin?

The project was founded in autumn 2006.

How many active members does the project have?

At the moment there are five people actively working for simon listens. However, many of our projects happen in cooperation with external partners like the Technical University Graz or the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna in Pisa.

Additionally, a few physically handicapped people and seniors that represent our target user group are also members of the organization and their help in countless practical tests is always greatly appreciated.

Why was the project created?

The school I was attending in 2006 has a subject called "project development" where small teams of students develop projects with external companies. During the search for a project we were approached by Franz Stieger, a teacher for special needs children who in his day-to-day work was confronted with children who suffer from spasticity. Because of their limited motor control they are not able to write clearly with a pen nor are they comfortable writing texts on a keyboard. Franz wanted to know, if it would be possible to use speech recognition software to help them participate in the classroom. With this idea he came to us. Under my leadership, we (a team of four students) then researched available speech recognition software and quickly concluded that none of the commercial or free offerings on the market were capable to adapt to the speech impairments of our test subjects. And because we had no idea what we were up against we thought - why not create our own solution? simon was born.

Why should a CeBIT visitor come to your booth?

At our booth we will not only demonstrate the current state of development of simon but there will also be a demonstration station where interested visitors can try the system for themselves. An especially developed voice controlled interface based on XBMC provides a multimedia center where users can watch movies and listen to music but can also keep an eye on their upcoming appointments, talk to friends and faimly through Skype and surf the web - all without touching either keyboard or mouse.

Who do you make your software for?

Of course everybody can download and use simon and we are more than happy to support anyone who wants to give it a try. The clear focus however is on those user groups that we think would benefit the most of speech control: Physically challenged persons and seniors for whom conventional input methods often pose problems are our main target groups.

Where do you see your biggest current challenges?

Speech recognition is a huge topic that is as complex as it is interesting. Our currently running projects encompass everything from speech recognition on smartphones that control the blinds on the windows to natural language interaction with robots. While working on such exciting topics it can often be hard to accept the fact that our time and budget are sadly very limited.

If you could hire a full-time project developer now, what problem should he or she be ready to solve?

Despite our best efforts the list of open tasks and project ideas grows longer and longer. Would we happen to be joined by another developer there are tons of projects he could get involved with: A completely integrated home automation, a better handling of background noises or a system of differentiated zones of recognition combined with state based recognition to improve recognition accuracy are just the first things that come to mind. In fact, our solid foundation and practically limitless control over the recognition open our system up to a wide array of potential projects that we didn't yet have time to explore.To potential developers: To work on simon doesn't automatically mean that you need to know how speech recognition works. Quite the contrary: Open tasks range from simple Junior-Jobs to full-fledged diploma thesis in Computer Science or Signal Processing. If you are interested, simply drop us a line:

Under which license is the software currently offered?

All software developed by the simon listens organization is released under the terms of the GPL.

Internet address: Blog:

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