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The new open sources codec from Google leverages AI to deliver superior quality voice communications with low bandwidth.

Google LLC said today it has open-sourced a codec called Lyra that relies on machine learning to enable high-quality voice calls in low bandwidth situations.

Lyra, which is now available on GitHub, can compress audio down to as little as 3 kilobits per second while still ensuring a sound quality that compares well with other codecs that require much greater bandwidth.

How Lyra works

Lyra’s architecture has two main elements, the encoder and decoder. When someone talks into their phone the encoder captures distinctive attributes from their speech. These speech attributes, also called features, operate in chunks of 40ms, then compressed and sent over the network. It is the decoder’s job to convert the features back into an audio waveform that listeners can play out over their phone speaker.

Google introduced Lyra first time in a blog post in February. They said that although mobile connectivity has spread rapidly across the world, not everyone has access to fast and reliable internet connections.

What makes Lyra special now

Google this week introduced the open source concept for Lyra in another blog post. In this announcement, Google said they are making Lyra open-source to help make a difference in these kinds of low-bandwidth situations.

“While mobile connectivity has steadily increased over the past decade, the explosive growth of on-device compute power has outstripped access to reliable high speed wireless infrastructure,” they write. “For regions where this contrast exists—in particular developing countries where the next billion internet users are coming online—the promise that technology will enable people to be more connected has remained elusive.”

Google hopes that by making the Lyra codec open-sourced, they will be able to more quickly develop the solutions to solve these problems.

“We are excited to see the creativity the open source community is known for applied to Lyra in order to come up with even more unique and impactful applications,” they added.