There are millions of people worldwide who are unable to speak due to severe speech impediments that have robbed them of their voice. Victims of stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, or cerebral palsy, for example, have completely lost the use of their voice and are unable to speak. Now, thanks to the amazing team at VOCALiD, it is possible for all of us to “donate” our voices to those in need.
The VOCALiD website explains: “Our VOCALiD approach extracts acoustic properties from a target talker’s disordered speech (whatever sounds they can still produce) and applies these features to a synthetic voice that was created from a surrogate voice donor who is similar in age, size, gender, etc. The result is a synthetic voice that contains as much of the vocal identity of the target talker as possible yet the speech clarity of the surrogate talker. It’s a simple idea that could make a powerful impact on the lives of those who rely on synthetic voices to express themselves.” In an interview with New Scientist, Northeastern University speech scientist, Rupal Patel, says: “For these individuals, this is the only way that they interact with people around them.” New Scientist adds: “It’s crucial that it fits, just like any other prosthetic, she says.”