Snoring is a prevalent condition with a variety of negative social effects and associated health problems. Treatments, both surgical and therapeutic, have been developed, but the objective non-invasive monitoring of their success remains problematic. We present a method which allows the automatic monitoring of snoring characteristics, such as intensity and frequency, from audio data captured via a freestanding microphone. This represents a simple and portable diagnostic alternative to polysomnography. Our system is based on methods that have proved effective in the field of speech recognition. Hidden Markov models (HMMs) were employed as basic elements with which to model different types of sound by means of spectrally based features. This allows periods of snoring to be identified, while rejecting silence, breathing and other sounds. Training and test data were gathered from six subjects, and annotated appropriately. The system was tested by requiring it to automatically classify snoring sounds in new audio recordings and then comparing the result with manually obtained annotations. We found that our system was able to correctly identify snores with 82-89% accuracy, despite the small size of the training set. We could further demonstrate how this segmentation can be used to measure the snoring intensity, snoring frequency and snoring index. We conclude that a system based on hidden Markov models and spectrally based features is effective in the automatic detection and monitoring of snoring from audio data.
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