International Researchers Working at NTT Laboratories
Interaction with foreign researchers thrives at NTT, allowing us to act globally.
Science and Core Technology Laboratory Group
Communication Science Laboratories
Note:The contents and the name of the laboratory are as of the time of the interview.
Mr. Delcroix was born in Belgium, and joined NTT in 2012 after completing his post doctorate studies there. After moving to Japan in 2003, he gained experienced as an intern at NTT Laboratories, through research activities at his university, and by working at other corporations, before entering NTT Laboratories. He has no problem with conversational Japanese, thanks to his long stay in the country, but still has sometimes difficulty understanding the Kansai dialect spoken by his wife's side of the family.
When I first joined NTT as an intern, I worked on dereverberation technology for voice recordings. This research centered on removing noise and echoes found in sound recordings made with for example IC recorders. Later, I shifted to automatic speech recognition research, and I am now researching speech recognition technology that allows for highly precise recognition even with noise and reverberation interferences. The theme of my research has moved from signal processing to speech recognition technology, but focusing on the problem of noise and reverberation. This means the knowledge I gained from past research is still applicable, and I feel as though the contents of my research has evolved gradually and naturally.
NTT Laboratories not only employs a number of renowned researchers, but many more visit our company to meet with them, making for ample opportunities to exchange ideas. Of course I actively participate in academic conferences abroad, joining in discussions there, as well as visiting local universities. In fact I have even planned workshops with fellow speech recognition researchers at several universities in Germany, the U.S., Israel etc.
Fascination with my research has certainly been a major part of why I chose to stay in Japan ever since my first internship here in 2003, but the simple joys of living in Japan have also been a reason for me to stay. Public safety makes everyday life easier, and Japanese food is delicious. There are a lot of things I didn't notice until I moved here. One thing that certainly surprised me was how incredibly westerners like myself, tend to stand out.
However, this is not a bad thing, but in fact a benefit of living here, as strangers often take time to help me when I am having trouble. Interpersonal communication is also a bit different here from how it is in the West. For example, people don't always say the first thing that comes to mind. Japanese people have the sense to think of the other person's feelings before speaking. I myself have gotten used to the Japanese way of communicating, so I may be in for some culture shock when speaking with locals if I go back home.
At the NTT Laboratories, I am surrounded by people I can respect who are conducting top level research, and I work in a superbly exciting research environment. With the freedom I have been given in my studies and choice of research topic, I am sure that if I continue my research here, then I will produce results that will impact my research field. In actuality, we are producing world class results in my field of speech recognition. I can also conduct my research in English without any concern for the language barrier, as my fellow researchers all speak impeccable English. Even when the discussion changes to Japanese, my coworkers are very considerate of me, and I am able to join the discussion without any obstruction.
Not only the people here, but the scale of our budget is a superior feature of NTT Laboratories. For example, my research is something that can be performed on simple computers, but we need many computers when performing experiments. The more computers you have, the faster you can run experiments and therefore the more different experiments you can run. When compared with the number of computers available in a university, I feel like we're really making full use of the research facilities available at our corporation. This is just one of many appealing aspects of working at NTT.