Speech recognition for the hospitality sector

Press Release /

September 2021 saw the launch of the innovation network “Foodservice Digital Hub”. Coordinated by the University of Leipzig, leading representatives of the sector are working hand in hand with innovative start-ups and research partners to develop viable future scenarios and digital prototypes. Fraunhofer IDMT from Oldenburg is contributing its know-how in the integration of speech recognition.

© Fraunhofer IDMT/Anika Bödecker
Fraunhofer IDMT from Oldenburg is contributing its expertise in integrating speech recognition in the Foodservice Digital Hub project.

The hospitality sector is currently undergoing a process of digital transformation, but at the same time it has had to cope with substantial losses due to the pandemic. Here, a project funded by Germany’s federal government is now offering support for its structural realignment: The Foodservice Digital Hub network attempts to identify the opportunities that digital transformation presents especially for small and medium-sized hospitality companies. These include contactless ordering, digital guest registration, improving supply chains and creating new market openings.


Combining artificial intelligence with digital order processes

The core element of the network is the organization of thematic digital think tanks. These will address topics relevant for the sector and develop innovative, market-oriented applications. At the centre of attention are new approaches based on combining artificial intelligence with digital order processes, for example in the context of voice-controlled order assistants, which enable new forms of interaction with guests.


Efficient processes and more customer dialogue through speech recognition

Within the network, Fraunhofer IDMT from Oldenburg is contributing its expertise in the field of speech recognition. The institute’s Oldenburg Branch for Hearing, Speech and Audio Technology HSA is well-known in many sectors, among others for the speech recognition systems it has developed itself, which function robustly in environments with difficult acoustics and can also be used in applications with the highest data privacy requirements. This is an important factor precisely in the hospitality sector because, for example, only the guests’ order should be heard beyond the table and not their conversation. In addition, the speech recognition system must also function reliably in a crowded restaurant where there is music and a lot of people talking.

Fraunhofer IDMT is helping the partners in the Foodservice Digital Hub network to integrate speech recognition in various areas. For customer service, server-based speech recognition is already being used to automate and accelerate processes. For tasks in the restaurant, such as voice-based order management or interactive, digital advertisements in the shape of posters, for example, solutions are also possible that are not connected to the internet. Smart speakers, like we are familiar with from our living rooms at home, are also conceivable in the B2B sector, for example to assist with compiling a »digital shopping list« in the kitchen or for voice commands.

The network also provides a framework for the exchange of new ideas, allowing speech and speaker recognition to be used and experienced by the end customer and between companies, while at the same time respecting data privacy.

The project, initiated by the University of Leipzig and TNC Production GmbH, is initially being funded for one year by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Further information can be found on the website: www.foodservicedigitalhub.de


Hearing, Speech and Audio Technology HSA at Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Oldenburg

Founded in 2008 as a project group, the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT’s Branch for Hearing, Speech and Audio Technology HSA stands for market-oriented research and development with a focus on the following areas:

-       Speech and event recognition

-       Sound quality and speech intelligibility

-       Mobile neurotechnology and systems for networked healthcare

With in-house expertise in the development of hardware and software systems for audio system technology and signal enhancement, over 90 employees at the Oldenburg site are responsible for transferring scientific findings into practical, customer-oriented solutions.

Through scientific cooperation, the institute is closely linked to the Carl von Ossietzky University, Jade University of Applied Sciences, the University of Applied Sciences Emden / Leer and other institutions in the field of hearing research. Fraunhofer IDMT is a partner in the »Hearing4all« cluster of excellence.

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