Baby Cry Analyzer

A computer-based tool that analyzes the cries of babies has been developed in cooperation with researchers in Women & Infants Hospital, which searches for clues to potential health or developmental problems. There are lots of conditions that might manifest in differences in cry acoustics. Slight variations in cries, mostly imperceptible to the human ear, can be a “window into the brain” that could allow for early intervention.

The system operates in two phases. During the first phase, the analyzer separates recorded cries into 12.5-millisecond frames. Each frame is analyzed for several parameters, including frequency characteristics, voicing, and acoustic volume. The second phase uses data from the first to give a broader view of the cry and reduces the number of parameters to those that are most useful. The frames are put back together and characterized either as an utterance — a single “wah” — or silence, the pause between utterances. Longer utterances are separated from shorter ones and the time between utterances is recorded. Pitch, including the contour of pitch over time, and other variables can then be averaged across each utterance. In the end, the system evaluates for 80 different parameters, each of which could hold clues about a baby’s health.

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