“Sound is the vocabulary of our world” @ the Abbey Road Hackathon

Pheobe participated in the Abbey Road Music Tech Hackathon winning two awards for Best example of spatial audio and the Best use of Audio Commons award.

Her team, Hear The World built a platform that sonifies the physical world allowing those who cannot see to feel the world by leveraging spatial sound techniques.

Well done Pheobe and the Hear the World team for delivering a novel audio quality of experience!

The Hackathon, taking place over 9-10 November, has had QxLab members participating for the last two years with with Alessandro joining the action in 2018.

How Do Different Browsers Handle Network Delays?

Hamed is in China at the IEEE International Conference on Communication Technology (ICCT) where he will present his work “Quantifying the Influence of Browser, OS and Network Delay on Time Instant Metric Measurements for a Web Mapping Application”.

Many factors influence the quality of experience when using interactive web-based applications such as Google Maps. In this work, Hamed explores the influence of operating system and browser on network delays.

QxLab Grows with Two New Grants for 5G and Speech Research

Dr Wissam Jassim and Dr Alcardo (Alex) Barakabitze joined QxLab in October.

Wissam is a research fellow working on GAN codec quality prediction. His research is funded from a new grant awarded to QxLab by Google. He will be working closely with Google Chrome to develop a new speech quality model that works with generative speech codecs.

Alex is an IRC Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow developing QoE centric management of multimedia services and orchestration of resources in 5G networks using SDN and NFV.


Wissam and Alex will be based in the Insight Centre at UCD.

Alessandro at the Turing

Alessandro has temporarily relocated to London where he will be based at the Alan Turing Institute as part of an Turing-Insight research collaboration. The Enrichment programme sees a cohort of 54 students based at the Turing in London for 2019/20.

Spending time in London will give Alessandro access to the facilities of the Turing, based in the British Library. He will also have the opportunity to visit Queen Mary University of London where his co-supervisor Emmanouil Benetos is  based.

While in London, Alessandro will continue his PhD research using deep learning models to predict quality for audio archives.





NAVE: An Autoencoder-based Video Quality Metric

NAVE is an autoencoder based video quality model

This month our latest research will be presented at the 2019 IEEE International Conference on Image Processing (ICIP) in Taipei, Taiwan. This is the premier event for image and video processing featuring international researchers and experts in this field.

We will present a Video Quality Metric that uses a deep autoencoder to train a model for video quality prediction. The presentation will be on Tuesday, 24 September at noon as part of a wider session on Novel Approaches for Image & Video Quality Assessment.

My paper, along with research by accepted authors, is currently available as a free download on IEEE Xplore until 25 September 2019. I hope you’ll download it and share any insights, feedback, and questions with me.


3D Sound and Vision with the Occulus Quest

Matthew Parker from Texas Tech University spent the summer at QxLab hosted by Insight and the school of Computer Science. Over eight weeks, he developed a virtual reality environment using the newest generation headset, the Oculus Quest wireless VR headset to explore audio-visual fusion.

Matthew presenting his poster titled “Perception Deception: Exploring Audio Localization in Virtual Reality Using The McGurk Effect” at the UCD Science poster session.

The audio and video immersion provided by virtual reality headsets is what makes virtual reality so enticing. Better understanding of this audio and video immersion is needed particularly in streaming applications where bandwidth is limited. The full 360 degree spaces that are the trademark of virtual reality require copious amounts of data to produce at a high quality. His work examined audio localization as a possible candidate for data compression by utilizing an audio-video phenomenon known as the McGurk Effect. The McGurk Effect occurs when mismatched audio and video stimuli are experienced by someone and the resulting perception of the sound is different than either of the stimuli. The common example for this phenomenon is a video of a talker saying /ga/ dubbed with the audio of someone saying /ba/. This usually results in the perception of /da/.

He used Ambisonics for audio, a type of audio that can be used over headphones to mimic how humans naturally hear sounds using head related transfer functions and acoustic environments.


Seeking words of Wisdom

QxLab took a couple of days away from our desks for a co-located writing workshop. Basing ourselves in one of UCD’s new University Club meeting rooms, we spent two days working on our research writing.  A starter session reflected on writing style and discussed where to publish. We practiced with some free writing and structured writing exercises and reviewed Brown’s 8 questions as a set of prompts.

  1. Who are intended readers? (3-5 names)
  2. What did you do? (50 words)
  3. Why did you do it? (50 words)
  4. What happened? (50 words)
  5. What do results mean in theory? (50 words)
  6. What do results mean in practice? (50 words)
  7. What is the key benefit for readers (25 words)
  8. What remains unresolved? (no word limit)

These questions, originally devised by Robert Brown but popularized by Rowena Murray, are a great way to get a writing retreat going. The rest of the sessions were spent progressing our writing towards our personal writing objectives – a bit like a natural language “Hackathon”.

For the final session we chose a short piece of own own writing and shared them for a non-judgemental peer review session where the author could choose the scope for their own feedback. A lot of the feedback followed common themes as we fell into similar traps with our writing.

A recent twitter thread offered a lot of advice we could relate to and a key take home message was to remember was that when you read published papers you only see the finished article. The papers you read have been through countless iterations and review feedback sessions from co-authors, reviewers and copy editors. Don’t compare your first draft to a published paper!


Useful references

Murray, R (2005) Writing for Academic Journals. Maidenhead: Open University Press-McGraw-Hill.

Murray, R & Moore, S (2006) The handbook of academic writing: A fresh approach. Maidenhead: Open University Press-McGraw-Hill.

Fusion Confusion in Massachusetts

Today QxLab’s Dr Abubakr Siddig presented collaborative work on immersive multimedia. As part of the ACM MMSys conference in University of Massachusetts Amherst Campus, the International Workshop on IMmersive Mixed and Virtual Environment Systems, MMVE 2019 is celebrating its 11th edition.

The paper, Fusion Confusion: Exploring Ambisonic Spatial Localisation for Audio-Visual Immersion Using the McGurk Effect, looked at the relationship between visual cues and spatial localisation for speech sounds.

AbuBakr rehearsing his presentation at the QxLab group meeting

The paper found that the McGurk Effect, where visual cues for sounds override what you hear, occurs for spatial audio but is not sensitive to whether the speech sound is aligned in space with the lips of the speaker.

The research, carried out by QxLab’s UCD based researchers and funded by two SFI centre’s CONNECT and INSIGHT.

Well done to AbuBakr, the presentation and demo were well received by the workshop attendees.

Demo of the fusion confusion at MMVE.

QxLab at ISSC 2019

QxLab has two papers at the Irish Signals and Systems Conference in Maynooth University today.  MSc student, Tong Mo presented work of speech Quality of Experience. Her research investigated how computer models for speech quality prediction in systems such as Skype or Google Hangouts. She developed an algorithm to minimise errors in the presence of jitter buffers.







A second paper was presented by PhD candidate Hamed Jahromi entitled, “Establishing Waiting Time Thresholds in Interactive Web Mapping Applications for Network QoE Management.” Hamed’s work looked at the perception of time in web applications. Is an additional delay of half a second noticeable if you have already waited 5 seconds for a Google Map page to load? Time is not absolute and Hamed wants to understand the impact of delays on web applications in order to optimise network resources for interactive applications other than speech and video streaming. This work was co-authored with Delcan T. Delaney from UCD Engineering and Brendan Rooney from UCD Psychology.

This research was sponsored by UCD School of Computer Science and the SFI CONNECT Centre for Future Networks.










Today is World Archive Day

Today is the UNESCO World Archives Day, highlighting the important work of archives and archivists in preserving our cultural heritage. The date was chosen to commemorate the creation of the International Council on Archives (ICA) founded on 9th of June 1948 under the auspices of the UNESCO. According to the ICA, “[a]rchives represent an unparalleled wealth. They are the documentary product of human activity and as such constitute irreplaceable testimonies of past events. They ensure the democratic functioning of societies, the identity of individuals and communities and the defense of human rights.”

Following quickly after the 6th June D-Day commemorations, today is a good day to highlight the important work that has been taking place to digitise and preserve the audio archives of the Nuremberg trials. Witnesses, lawyers and judges were recorded in their native tongues together with recordings of the live translations.  This resulted in 775 hours of original trial audio recorded on 1,942 Presto gramophone discs and translations on Embossed tape, a clear-colored film also known as Amertape. While the tape degraded, the discs survived. The digitisation will be published next year but the fascinating story of  was recently published by the Verge and PRI articles by Christopher Harland-Dunaway. University of Fribourg’s Ottar Johnsen worked with Stefano Cavaglieri, a colleague at the Swiss National Sound Archives and the International Court of Justices archivists using imaging and audio digital signal processing to capture the archive material. You can listen to it here:

Last week, at the 11th International Conference on Quality of Multimedia Experience (QoMEX), QxLab PhD student Alessandro Ragano presented our work on how audio archive stakeholders perceive quality in archive material. By examining the lifecycle from digitisation through restoration and consumption, the influence factors and stakeholders are highlighted. At QxLab we are interested in how audio digital signal processing techniques can be used in conjunction with data driven machine learning to capture, enhance and explore audio archives.

Alessandro’s research is supported in part by a research grant from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and is co-founded under the European Regional Development Fund under Grant No. 17/RC-PhD/3483. This publication has emanated from research supported by Insight which is supported by SFI under grant number 12/RC/2289. EB is supported by RAEng Research Fellowship RF/128 and a Turing Fellowship.