Samstag, 27. April 2013

Moving day

Recently I noted that there were more and more topics outside of Simon (but mostly related to KDE in other ways) that I wanted to talk about.
Therefore, I have decided to set up a personal blog:

Because I don't want to maintain two separate blogs, this is also the place where I will post updates about the Simon development from now on.

The new blog will of course also be aggregated to Planet KDE.

Sonntag, 30. Dezember 2012

Simon 0.4.0

After years of hard work, the Simon team is proud to announce the new major release: Simon 0.4.0.

New in Simon 0.4

This new version of the open source speech recognition system Simon features a whole new recognition layer, context-awareness for improved accuracy and performance, a dialog system able to hold whole conversations with the user and more.

Revisiting Usability

A lot of work has gone into making Simon easier to use - both for existing and new users.
Perhaps most visibly, the main window of Simon has been reorganized to bring the most important options together in one screen.
Simon 0.4.0: Main window

Moreover, the newly introduced Simon base model format (.sbm) and the integration of a GHNS online repository of base models have removed the last big hurdle of the initial configuration.
One can now easily go from a fresh installation to a working setup in less than 5 minutes without any preparation. Don't believe me? Check out the quick start below!

Simon 0.4.0: Quick Start

Many other, smaller changes sum up to one simple but important difference: Simon will overall require less user interaction while achieving more.


One of the major internal changes of Simon 0.4 is of course the included support for the BSD licensed CMU SPHINX. While we still also maintain full support for HTK and Julius, new models compiled with Simon will default to the SPHINX backend and the (proprietary) HTK is no longer required to build user-generated models.
Best of all: Simon will select the correct backend for your configuration transparently and automatically.


A major problem of open source speech recognition has always been the lack of freely available high quality speech models.

The Voxforge project has been working for years towards GPL acoustic models for a variety of languages. While their models are certainly not yet perfect, they offer a promising starting point.
The English Voxforge model is of course available as a Simon base model and can be downloaded and imported with Simon.

Additionally, starting with Simon 0.4, users will also have the option to contribute their gathered Simon training samples directly to the Voxforge server.
These recordings will then be used to train and improve the general acoustic models.

Simon 0.4.0: Training

By the way: Behind the scenes this upload is based on SSC.


There is a simple rule of thumb in speech recognition: The smaller the application domain, the better the recognition accuracy. This was always one of the core principles of Simon.

In Simon 0.4, however, we went one step further: Simon can now re-configure itself on-the-fly as the current situation changes. Through so called "context conditions" Simon 0.4 can automatically activate and deactivate selected scenarios, microphones and even parts of your training corpus.

For example: Why listen for "Close tab" when your browser isn't even open? Or why listen for anything at all when you're actually in the next room listening to music? Yes, Simon is watching you.

Dialog System

Simon 0.4.0 also ships with the new dialog system featuring scripted variables (Javascript), integration with Plasma data engines, a templating system and - of course - text-to-speech output.


For users of KDE's plasma workspace, we now provide the "Simonoid" plasmoid to start and monitor Simon - including the current recording volume.


The screenshot above shows two instances of the plasmoid: One added to the panel and another one to the desktop.

... and everything else

Please don't be foold to think that the above is a complete list of all improvements. For example, we also have a new sample review tool called Afaras, integration with the Sequitur grapheme to phoneme framework, an Akonadi command plugin and many, many other noteworthy changes.
You'll have to try out Simon to see for yourself!


To install Simon 0.4.0, you can either compile the official source tarball, install a binary package provider by our Linux distribution or use the installer for Windows.

Source Code

If you are a packager and would like to package Simon 0.4, please do get in touch with us. Thank you.

Donnerstag, 20. Dezember 2012

Simon 0.4.0: RC1

As of right now, the first release candidate of Simon 0.4.0 is available:

As can be expected, a lot of bugs have been fixed since the last beta.

However, that's not all that changed: This release candidate also comes with complete handbooks for all Simon applications. Next to documenting the plentiful new features, I also completely restructured the Simon handbook to hopefully provide a better starting point for new users.

Moreover, the windows installer has been vastly improved and now actually ships a fully fledged Simon version with Julius and SPHINX support. This means that you can use any Simon base model right from the start and even build your own speech model from scratch without installing any additional software.

This brings me neatly to the call for packagers: If you want to help package Simon, please get in touch with me.

Sonntag, 9. Dezember 2012

Simon 0.4: Beta 2

Yes, the second beta of Simon 0.4.0 is here!

Most of the changes are quite minor but the SPHINX backend received some much needed love and Simon now builds again under Windows.

A Windows installer of the beta version is currently being built and will be provided shortly.

Update: The Windows installer is now available.

Mittwoch, 5. Dezember 2012

Simon 0.4: Beta 2 Update

The second beta of Simon was scheduled for today but since the last couple of weeks were extremely busy for me and other core contributers to Simon, we simply don't have enough changes that would justify another release right now.

Therefore, I have decided to move the release of the second beta to Sunday, December 9th.
Everything else, most importantly the release date of 0.4.0, stays the same.

Please do keep reporting bugs in the mean time - I am sure there are lots of them and yet we only received two reports since the first beta. Come on, guys, you can do better than that!

Donnerstag, 15. November 2012

Simon 0.4.0: Beta 1

It is November 15 and therefore time for our first beta release of Simon 0.4 (tagged as Simon 0.3.90).

Download the source tarball here: Simon 0.4.0: Beta 1

Please note that this release is purely for testing purposes and not meant to replace Simon 0.3.0 on production systems yet.

Don't forget to report bugs!

Dienstag, 13. November 2012

Simon in Brazil

Amidst all the release preparation it can be helpful to reflect why we're actually working on all of this.

Because of that, I want to share an email about a project of the Federal University of Pará, Brazil that I received just a couple of days ago:
The project began in January, 2012 with the goal of deploying SimonBR in public schools in Castanhal, a city located in the state of Pará, Brazil.
The idea is to enable students with physical disabilities to use the computer to perform basic tasks such as listening to music, view photos, access the Internet, email, etc.
And here is a demonstration video of what they have built:


Please help us test the next version of Simon and report any bugs that you find on our bug tracker to make sure that projects like that will become more common in the future!