Donate Your Voice To Help Improve Quality Of Life For People With Speech Impairments
If you really want to help other people but you’re not exactly fond of leaving your house, here’s a great opportunity: Donate your voice to VocaliD, a company that’s developing technology to match people with speech impairments who use text-to-speech devices with voices that sound more like their own.
VocaliD’s founder and speech-science professor Rupal Patel, recognized the limitations of current text-to-speech technology during a speech technology conference. Walking around, she realized that almost half the people in the room were speaking in identical voices. VocaliD’s mission, though, isn’t just to provide a different array of voice options. Many people who are speech impaired retain their voice and vocal inflections, but can’t form words. VocaliD wants to match recorded voices and their recipients, and allow for inflection in speech, which current technology can’t do.
Jody Kreiman summed up the importance of voices to our identities to The Atlantic:
“In the same way you look at someone and start drawing conclusions, you hear a voice and start drawing conclusions … Are they in a good mood or a bad mood? Are they healthy? Educational level, [whether] they’re good-looking or not, [whether] they’re a leader. When you lose your voice, you lose your social self.”
VocaliD is asking the public for our help in building a voice database. They’ve opened up their voice bank for voice donation — a process that requires a microphone, Google Chrome, a quiet room, and a few hours of your time. Patel says that 600 people have completed their donations since the voice bank opened during the Thanksgiving weekend, and 24,000 more have signed up to donate their voices eventually.
The VocaliD project has been seven years in the making, and Patel’s goal now is to start matching recipients with voices as soon as possible. So go get on it! It’s a perfect way to spend a quiet winter evening doing something really good.
[Screencap via VocaliD]
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