Prize Challenges

Automatic Speech recognition In Reverberant Environments (ASpIRE) Challenge

The winners of the ASpIRE Challenge have been announced.  For more information, click here.

Automatic speech recognition software that works in a variety of acoustic environments and recording scenarios is a holy grail of the speech research community.

IARPA’s Automatic Speech recognition In Reverberant Environments (ASpIRE) Challenge is seeking that grail.


Who We Are: The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) focuses on high-risk, high-payoff research. The ASpIRE challenge is a spin-off of our Babel program, which works to develop agile and robust technology that can be rapidly applied to any human language.

What We’re Doing: Previous work has shown that automatic speech recognition (ASR) performance degrades in room microphone conditions, especially when data used for training is mismatched with data used in testing. The ASpIRE challenge asks the public to develop approaches to mitigate the effects of these conditions and create software that can function in many acoustic environments and recording scenarios. Participants can address either a single microphone or multimicrophone scenario.

Where We’re Doing This: Around the world—anyone over age 18 is welcome to participate. We’re looking for solutions from anyone who thinks they might have a way of addressing this problem, including analysts, natural language processing (NLP) specialists, machine learning programmers, and even experts in disciplines we haven’t yet considered.

When We’re Doing This: Fifteen hours of data (divided into a development set and development-test set) have been posted on the challenge website. These data, which consist of multimicrophone recordings of conversational speech with transcriptions, are meant to be used for optimization, training selection, and tuning. At any time during this period, solvers may run their software against the data and revise their solutions.

During the evaluation period, participants will be given approximately 10 hours of new transcribed far-field microphone data from noisy, reverberant rooms. These data will be divided into the single-microphone or multimicrophone conditions, and word error rate will be the objective measure of performance. To be eligible for award, the single-microphone submissions must be received before February 19 and multimicrophone submissions before February 27.

Why We’re Doing This: Challenges are widely recognized as a cost-efficient way to gather cross-disciplinary solutions to difficult problems. Challenges to stimulate breakthroughs in science and technology also support the White House’s Strategy for American Innovation, as well as government transparency and efficiency. By sponsoring full and open competition via challenges, IARPA is tackling the most challenging research questions of today—and changing the future of technology.

Why Participate? The ASpIRE Challenge gives experts the opportunity to contribute to technological breakthroughs that can make what has been impossible in the ASR community—software that works in a variety of acoustic environments and recording scenarios—a reality.

We’re offering up to 2 prizes: $30,000 for software that addresses the single-microphone condition and $20,000 for software that addresses the multimicrophone condition.

For More Information: Visit the challenge site, see the press release or contact

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