Launching the Open Speech Initiative

Over the course of the summer, I have been working on bringing dictation capabilities to Simon. Now, I’m trying to build up a network of developers and researchers that work together to build high accuracy, large vocabulary speech recognition systems for a variety of domains (desktop dictation being just one of them).

Building such systems using free software and free resources requires a lot of work in many different areas (software development, signal processing, linguistics, etc.). In order to facilitate collaboration and to establish a sustainable community between volunteers of such diverse backgrounds, I am convinced that the right organizational structure is crucial to ensuring continued long-term success.

With this in mind, I am pleased to introduce the new Open Speech Initiative under the KDE umbrella: A team of developers looking to bring first class speech processing to the world of free software.


The current team consists of Simon, a german programmer getting into speech technology, Adam Nash, a Simon GSoC graduate that I’m very happy to welcome again, Mario Fux, well known for – among other things – the legendary Randa meetings, Jon Lederman, Co-Founder of SonicCloud (a cloud telephony platform) and myself.

If you are interested in joining or actually already are working on a project that also deals with speech processing, please feel free to get in touch with us.


Website: speech.kde.org (currently under construction)
IRC: #kde-speech on Freenode
Mailing list: kde-speech@kde.org
Projects: https://projects.kde.org/projects/extragear/speech


Right now, we’re mostly working on the lower levels, setting up infrastructure and automatic systems to help us build better speech models quicker in the future.

However, we also have some end-user applications planned that range from dictation software to automatic subtitling.

Watch the Open Speech Initiative’s website for updates!

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Peter Grasch


  1. Great to hear your efforts are flourishing 😉
    I hope I’ll find some time in the future to help a bit, too.

  2. Amazing project

    It is really impressive, what you have done over the summer. Your new project is something very much needed in the F/OSS world and I am glad that it is you who is taking it on. I am convinced that you will succeed in creating a community and producing something quite revolutionary (at least for my Linux-only machines). I wish you all the luck and fun you can have and hope many helping hands will soon flock to your project.

  3. A really welcome software..!

    That’s really a great wok you have done. Thank you for putting so much time and effort into it! This piece of software is what Open Source needed quite badly. I wish you all the luck and hope more helping hand join the project.

  4. The crowd will help

    Hi, it’s good to hear 🙂

    I was interested in speech recognition to enrich a expert tool to support input via voice. So I stumbled upon http://www.voxforge.org and it would bre really awesome, if you could setup a similar/new project like this to collect audio recordings from people and mix it a bit more with gamification (people can also contribute without prof. earphone setup, different sentences for different communities (stories, wikipedia articles, …).

    • Voxforge is still active and we do work together to some extend. For example, my models here include Voxforge data and we provide a Voxforge upload feature directly in Simon to contribute your training data.

      Feel free to record and upload any recordings such as stories, Wikipedia articles, etc. through this feature (set them up as training texts in Simon and upload with File > Contribute samples.

  5. Open Speech Initiative Website

    When I follow the link from this page to the website for the Open Speech Initiative, it says that it is under construction.
    When will the site be up? Will there be a forum for discussion?

  6. Progress has been very slow

    Progress has been very slow in the last month since I wasn’t available but I’m back and am hoping to have something up in the next couple of weeks.

    There will likely be a subforum at forum.kde.org, maybe something dedicated. Not sure yet. If you want to start a discussion right now, please feel free to use the Accessibility subforum there: http://forum.kde.org/viewforum.php?f=216

    Best regards,

  7. I think everybody is less available for the couple months around the changing of the year.

    The discussion I want to start will benefit Accessibility, but goes beyond Accessibility in the direction of screenless interfaces. I think I’ll wait for a dedicated Open Speech Initiative forum.

    Meanwhile, do you have any tips for how to get started experimenting with Simon and dictation?

    • You can set up Simon but the best thing you could probably do is to sign up for the kde-speech mailing list and drop us a line there.

  8. Hi,

    I’m hoping it’ll become a generic library that can be used without any dbus/kde/etc bindings.
    That way one could also use it on an headless system for e.g. binding into the asterisk voicemailbox.

    • Hi Folkert,

      this is not a goal of Simon. You can use the underlying engine(s) directly. Check out PocketSphinx, for example.

      Best regards,

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