Aims and Motivation

The challenge of sound source localization in acoustically complex environments has attracted widespread attention in the AASP community in recent years. This was highlighted by the acceptance of a Special Session at ICASSP 2017 on “Speaker localization in dynamic real-life environments”, organized jointly by the IEEE-AASP and Sensor Array and Multichannel (SAM) technical committees. Source localization approaches in the literature range from single-sensor to multi-sensor and distributed arrays, based on features including, for example, Time Delays of Arrival, Direction of Arrival, or even audio spectrograms. Nevertheless, despite the significant impact of sound source localization approaches, a comprehensive, objective benchmarking campaign of state-of-the-art algorithms were unavailable prior to this challenge. The IEEE-AASP challenge on acoustic source LOCalization And TrAcking (LOCATA) therefore aimed at providing researchers in source localization with a framework to objectively benchmark results against competing algorithms using a common, publically released data corpus that encompasses different real-life scenarios in an enclosed acoustic environment, i.e., no simulated data is used for the evaluation.

Academic and Commercial Impact

A large number of AASP sub-areas benefit from accurate sound source localization, including, for example, speaker diarization and Blind Source Separation (BSS) for distinction between concurrently active talkers; beamforming for improved focussing on desired sources; and speech enhancement and dereverberation for suppressing ambient noise, late reverberation, and early reflections. Therefore, robust localization algorithms have wide academic and commercial impact towards the following applications:
• Hearing aids for improved focusing on desired sound sources
• Smart homes and home assistants for interaction with distant speakers
• Robots for awareness of and reaction to visually occluded events
• Smart cars for detection and reaction to approaching emergency vehicles
• Virtual reality devices for synthesis of immersive sound fields.

Context within previous IEEE-AASP Challenges

Recent IEEE-AASP challenges focused on detection and recognition of sound events (DCASE I/II and BAD), as well as the characterization of acoustic environments (ACE). The scope of the IEEE-AASP LOCATA Challenge on acoustic source localization and tracking is to gain information about the positions of fixed or moving sound sources by various fixed or moving microphone arrays in a realistic acoustic environment.

Dissemination of Results

The results of the challenge were published in the format of conference papers in a workshop held as a satellite event at IWAENC 2018 in Tokyo. Also, an article will be submitted to IEEE Transactions in Audio, Language and Speech Processing. This paper shall review, categorize, and benchmark all participating algorithms. The results will also be published on this website.