SBIR and STTR Success Story for
Speech Technology & Applied Research Corp.

(Information Posted/Updated on 12/11/2012)

Speech Technology & Applied Research Corp.
54 Middlesex Tpk.
Bedford, MA  01730

Contact:    Joel MacAuslan
Phone:      781-861-7827
Fax:          800-230-8572
Web Site:

Project Title:  Automatic Pronunciation Screening Test
Related Award(s):  R43 DC03876
Technology Developed:
We developed an automated test to assess quickly and objectively how well a typical American listener will understand a particular non-native speaker of English (teacher, nurse, graduate teaching assistant, airline pilot). This was based on a manual test for the same purpose, developed by a linguist over many years. It makes specific measurements on specific words and sentences that are selected to show non-native pronunciation patterns.

Key Words:  intelligibility, understandability, pronunciation, linguistics, non-native speaker, English, expert system.
Uses of Technology/Products/Service:
The technology is a screening test for understandability. It analyzes specific words and sentences for pronunciation features. These are features known to identify speakers whom American English listeners have difficulty understanding. The test is offered as the Automatic Pronunciation Screening Test (APST) by Phonologics, Inc. It is used for assessment of universities' incoming non-native students, of pronunciation training effectiveness, of call-center personnel, and of the understandability of non-native nurses immigrating to the US.

Benefit to Company:
The SBIR and STTR programs have been central to developing our core capability in knowledge-based speech analysis, averaging about $500K-$1M annually for many years. This includes projects on non-native speakers' understandability [this project], on infant speech development and therapy, on traumatic brain-injury assessment, and on Parkinson's Disease treatment monitoring. Our first focused spin-off of this list is Phonologics, Inc., with which we have a licensing arrangement. In addition, we have deepened our capabilities in signal and image processing and in algorithm development, areas in which we provide consulting expertise.

How Product Was Commercialized:
This product was commercialized through Phonologics, Inc., which first conducted pilot studies and beta tests with several universities and language training centers.

Other Comments Related to Company's Success Story:
The patience to allow several funded SBIR/STTR projects while waiting to commercialize even the first one was extremely helpful. There are many problems in running a tiny business. The SBIR/STTR program allowed us to deal with them while continuing to work on the technology, instead of being forced to give up too soon.

Past R&D and/or Sales from this Project:   $50K
Estimated Future Annual R&D and/or Sales from this Project:   $3.0M