SMM 2018: Dialogue-oriented training tool for communication at sea

News / 3.9.2018

Intelligent robots with sensor guidance for shipbuilding, use of radar to locate shipwreck survivors, automatic speech recognition – these are just some of the developments that Fraunhofer researchers will be presenting on the joint Fraunhofer stand (No. 319, Hall B6) at SMM 2018. Fraunhofer IDMT in Oldenburg will be showing a dialogue-oriented training tool for safe communication at sea.

© Fraunhofer IDMT/Daniel Schmidt

Automatic speech recognition for maritime communication, crewing and e-learning.

Oldenburg, 3.9.2018. Unclear communication is often the cause of incidents at sea. To overcome language barriers between crew members from different nations, the IMO Standard Marine Communication Phrases (SMCP) were introduced. On the joint Fraunhofer stand at SMM 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Oldenburg will be presenting a dialogue-oriented training tool based on automatic speech recognition that visitors can test.

"Off-the-peg" speech recognizers are not enough

The aim is to improve ship-to-ship and ship-to-land communication by integrating speech recognition in communication and learning systems as well as crewing. "The Fraunhofer IDMT has extensive expertise in the field of speech recognition so that systems are already available that normal ambient noise and interference can hardly irritate. We combine an excellent recognition performance with processes that do not require any internet connection whatsoever – an important prerequisite for use on board and in maritime communication," explains Jens Appell, head of the Project Group Hearing, Speech and Audio Technology at Fraunhofer IDMT.

Fraunhofer researchers will be presenting a wide range of new developments in maritime research on the joint Fraunhofer stand (No. 319, Hall B6) at SMM 2018. Their research work focuses not only on the efficiency and environmental impact of ocean shipping but also on an integrated approach to digitization, automation and the development of new manufacturing technologies in the context of industry 4.0.

Seven Fraunhofer institutions, which have joined forces to form the Waterborne Group, will be exhibiting customized solutions at SMM for shipping companies, shipyards, ports, providers of logistics services and the maritime supply industry.

The Fraunhofer Center for Maritime Logistics and Services CML in Hamburg is working on a new type of hull coating with biomimetic properties. The water fern, which inspired this development, and first samples from the CML’s initial research will be displayed in water tanks. The CML will also be presenting recent developments from its work on autonomous shipping.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD in Rostock is conducting research into the use of visual computing in the maritime sector. This year, the IGD will be showing data goggles with which users can access complex information in virtual form, e.g. in the area of design. Visitors to the Fraunhofer stand can test the "HoloLens"used in this application.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Bremen will be using a model ship to present its innovative surfaces for ship hulls. The researchers will also be reporting on their test sites on the islands of Helgoland and Sylt, which can be used to conduct scientific research into corrosion protection and antifouling coatings under real environmental conditions in the North and Baltic Seas.

Locating shipwreck survivors is the first step to rescuing them from the water. However, the higher the waves, the more difficult spotting them becomes. A research consortium involving the Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques FHR in Wachtberg has developed an innovative solution for detecting persons or objects in the water. The radar on show at SMM picks up frequency-modulated signals produced by a new type of transponder and can trace a person fitted with the corresponding device, even in a crowd.

The Fraunhofer Research Institution for Large Structures in Production Engineering IGP in Rostock will be presenting the latest developments in manufacturing. Two robots at once will demonstrate the state of the art in maritime production, using intelligent sensor guidance and innovative image processing. The robots’ autonomous programming is an important step towards economically viable production.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF in Darmstadt will be exhibiting innovative components to reduce vibrations at sea. Above all oscillations and vibrations in the drive trains of main and auxiliary aggregates in maritime applications lead to unwanted side effects, such as increased wear and noise emissions combined with an overall shortening of service life. A toolbox developed by the LBF uses analytical and numerical methods to generate optimized solutions.


New this year: Researchers from the Fraunhofer institutes will present a range of innovative solutions in short talks and demonstrations every day at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

The Fraunhofer Waterborne Forum will take place on 5.9.2018 at SMM. The topic this year is »Shipping Under Extreme Conditions«. Further information can be found under

As partners in the Bremen Competence Centre for SME 4.0, the Fraunhofer IDMT in Oldenburg and the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD in Rostock will also be showing managers and staff from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on the joint Fraunhofer stand how they can improve their skills in the area of digitization. Exhibits will give visitors a valuable insight into the opportunities and advantages of digitization for SMEs. These include, amongst others, acoustic process monitoring for quality assurance, digital assistants as man-machine interfaces, the use of 3D data in technical product design and digital twin or pattern recognition. The Bremen Competence Centre for SME 4.0 is part of the »SME 4.0 - Digital Production and Work Processes« initiative of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.


About the Branch Hearing, Speech and Audio Technology at the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Oldenburg

The objective of the Branch Hearing, Speech and Audio Technology of the Fraunhofer IDMT is to transpose scientific findings related to hearing perception into technological applications. Its applied research priorities are the enhancement of sound and speech intelligibility, personalized audio reproduction, and acoustic speech and event detection. Through scientific partnerships, it has close links with the Carl von Ossietzky University, Jade University and other institutions in Oldenburg engaged in hearing research. It is also a partner in the »Hearing4all« Cluster of Excellence.

WE MAKE IT LISTEN! "We teach your devices to hear."

With the speech recognizers developed at the Fraunhofer IDMT, enterprises can operate their machines reliably even in a loud environment and, if wanted, without transferring data to the internet. Or they can incorporate the speech recognizers in their own products and in this way create unique selling points as well as generate new value added for their customers. In the area of industry 4.0, amongst others, the Fraunhofer IDMT is using acoustic event monitoring processes to detect conspicuous noises in machines or in the context of product quality control. In this way, damage can be avoided and downtimes kept to a minimum.