ICT Centre - Innovative ICT transforming Australian industries




Staff Profile

Dr Iain McCowan

Project Leader
Networking Technologies Laboratory


Contact Details

Corner of Vimiera and Pembroke Streets,
Marsfield, NSW 2122
PO Box 76 Epping NSW 1710 Australia
E-mail: Iain.McCowan@csiro.au
Telephone: +61 7 3024 1626

Research Overview

My research interest lies in the application of signal processing, natural language processing, and machine learning technologies to observe and improve human-human and human-computer interactions. A focus of much of my work has been the use of microphone arrays in this context, benefiting from their spatial discrimination to track and acquire speech from distant speakers. This has application, for instance, to automated transcription of business meetings or within systems to support remote collaboration. Recently, I have also conducted research in the health domain, applying natural language processing and machine learning to automate the collection of cancer staging data from free-text pathology and radiology reports.


Iain McCowan received the B.Eng. and B.InfoTech. from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Brisbane, in 1996. In 1997, he worked as a Software Engineer in the Australian office of DASCOM, a US-based start-up in the area of intranet security (subsequently acquired by IBM Tivoli).

From 1998 to 2001, Iain completed his PhD in Robust Speech Recognition using Microphone Arrays at QUT, including a period as a researcher at France Telecom R&D. He was a Research Scientist at the IDIAP Research Institute, Switzerland from 2001-2005. While there, he worked on a number of applied research projects in the areas of automatic speech recognition, content-based multimedia retrieval and multimodal event recognition, in collaboration with a variety of academic and industrial partner sites.  From January 2004, Iain was Scientific Coordinator of the AMI (Augmented Multi-party Interaction) project, a multi-disciplinary project involving 15 international sites, jointly managed by IDIAP and the University of Edinburgh.

Iain joined the CSIRO e-Health Research Centre in May 2005 as a Research Scientist in the area of multimedia content analysis, and was Project Leader of the Cancer Stage Interpretation System project in collaboration with the Queensland Cancer Control and Analysis Team in Queensland Health.

Since November 2007, Iain has been a member of the CSIRO ICT Centre Networking Technologies Laboratory, working on R&D of microphone array technologies and managing CSIRO's participation on the EU FP6 AMIDA project.

Current Projects

Augmented Multi-party Interaction with Distant Access (AMIDA)

Commercialisation of Microphone Array

Past Projects

Cancer Stage Interpretation System (CSIS)

Selected Recent Publications

Full publications list

[1] I. McCowan, M. Lincoln, and I. Himawan. Microphone Array Calibration in Diffuse Noise Fields. To appear in IEEE Transactions on Audio, Speech and Language Processing, January 2008.
[2] D. Gatica-Perez, G. Lathoud, J.-M. Odobez, and I. McCowan. Audio-Visual Probabilistic Tracking of Multiple Speakers in Meetings. IEEE Transactions on Speech and Audio Processing, 15(2):601-616, February 2007.
[3] H. K. Maganti, D. Gatica-Perez, and I. McCowan. Speech Enhancement and Recognition in Meetings with an Audio-Visual Sensor Array. IEEE Transactions on Audio, Speech and Language Processing, 2007.
[4] I. McCowan, D. Moore, A. Nguyen, R. Bowman, B. Clarke, E. Duhig, and M-J. Fry. Collection of Population Cancer Stage Data by Classifying Free-text Medical Reports. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA), 14(6):736-745, November-December 2007.
[5] D. Zhang, D. Gatica-Perez, S. Bengio, I. McCowan, and G. Lathoud. Modeling Individual and Group Actions in Meetings With Layered HMMs. IEEE Transactions on Multimedia, 8(3):509-520, June 2006.
[6] I. McCowan, D. Gatica-Perez, S. Bengio, G. Lathoud, M. Barnard, and D. Zhang. Automatic Analysis of Multimodal Group Actions in Meetings. IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, 27(3):305-317, March 2004.
[7] I. McCowan and H. Bourlard. Microphone Array Post-filter based on Noise Field Coherence. IEEE Transactions on Speech and Audio Processing, 11(6), November 2003.
[8] I. Himawan, S. Sridharan, and I. McCowan. Dealing with Uncertainty in Microphone Placement in a Microphone Array Speech Recognition System. In To appear in Proceedings of ICASSP 2008, 2008.
[9] I. McCowan and H. Harden. Towards Automated Observational Analysis of Leadership in Clinical Networks. In Third International Conference Information Technology in Health Care (ITHC2007): Socio-technical approaches, August 2007.




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