While video calls seem to be the digital communication method of choice for most people right now, there are still those that do not have good enough Internet to be able to participate. The next best thing would be audio calls although there are still those stuck with low bandwidth. Google Duo is now using a new technology called Lyra which will let even those who have a 2G connection still hear natural-sounding calls. We’re seeing an uptick for audio-based communication now with Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces so it’s no surprise that Google Duo will be launching new things.
This new audio codec called Lyra is pretty simple but important. It will optimize the audio calls on Google Duo so that the voice you hear is still pretty understandable and natural-sounding even if the bandwidth you’re using is pretty low. They were able to do this with the assistance of a machine learning model and training it on thousands of hours of audio. They used speakers in over 70 languages so that the technology will be useful to as many people as possible.
The technology will be able to run on both high-end cloud servers to a mid-range smartphone. On paper, it should only have 90ms of latency. Users should be able to get natural-sounding voice chats at just 3KB per second on your network bandwidth. While there are probably not that many people on 2G networks anymore, even those who still are will be able to participate in Google Duo’s voice chats and calls.
Of course, it’s not the same quality as a regular audio from a normally encoded recording. A video demo posted on Twitter shows that it’s a noticeably lower quality but it’s still able to recognize the speaker’s voice while using a low amount of data. They have posted other recordings on the Google AI blog so you can check them out and compare them to a regularly encoded recording.
— Android (@Android) March 2, 2021
Lyra is now rolling out to the Google Duo for Android app and it will automatically be used for calls that are using low-speed connections like those with dialup connections or those in India and Brazil that are still on 2G. It will eventually be released as open source so others can also use Lyra codecs in their apps.