As people all over the world transition to an increasingly virtual lifestyle, newly digital workers are learning just how noisy AF their homes actually are, thanks to the modern miracle of VoIP. You live with that air conditioning unit every single day and have never once thought of it as loud, but now it’s the running joke in your morning scrum calls. There’s no way the kids can be that loud with three sets of doors and a staircase between us, right? Oh, sorry, no, that’s the neighbor’s dog, I can’t do anything about it, yes I’ll mute myself, sorry, no, I’m sorry, yes, sorry.
In an effort to help alleviate the severity of situations like these, ever-popular chat/voice/video client Discord has partnered with machine learning company Krisp to implement automatic, smart noise suppression during Discord calls. “This new tech detects and removes background noises happening around you so your voice can be heard clearly,” Discord says on its official blog. “Have a vacuum running in the background; slam a door; ruffle a bag of chips; keep using your really loud keyboard your friends complain about. They won’t be able to hear it.”
Until now, Discord has featured a rudimentary noise filtering technology called a “noise gate,” which is fairly standard to most voice conferencing software. Basically, a noise gate sets a volume threshold for your microphone, and anything below that threshold is kept out of the call, with the idea being that ambient room noise is quieter than your normal speaking voice. The problem with a noise gate is that as soon as you talk, all of that noise comes back in with your voice, and if something actually loud happens — a broken glass, a screaming roommate, a police siren, etc — the noise gate isn’t smart enough to differentiate that from your voice either.
Krisp claims to use the power of machine learning to know what sounds are voice sounds and what sounds aren’t, thus providing a clear call under less than ideal circumstances. Discord is also quick to point out that Krisp is an integrated part of the Discord client, and that all of its computations are performed on your device, meaning that your voice data is never sent off to a server somewhere for processing, be it at Discord or Krisp proper.
Krisp also functions during Discord video calls and the platform’s integrated “Go Live” streams, which is great news considering that other video conferencing solutions are going through it right now. And while only available on the desktop version of Discord, integration with the mobile app is forthcoming.
“Noise suppression arrives to Discord today and will roll out to 100 percent of desktop users,” the website reads. “The feature is still in early beta. We’re still working on improving it. While also working on mobile support! But we decided to release it early as we didn’t want to wait on technology that can be helpful in a lot of your current situations.” According to Discord, use of its software has more than doubled in some parts of the world since the beginning of the novel coronavirus pandemic.