Since we recruit for positions in tech and IT and have worked with some of the UK’s most innovative businesses, at Primo Associates we’re interested in the changing technological landscape and how tech is informing our future. That’s why we were intrigued to read about VocaliD and their Human Voicebank and how their technology is changing the lives of thousands across the UK who have lost the ability to speak, whether through cancer and illness, anatomical excisions, motor neurone disease and cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis or autism.
For most of us, the only exposure we have to digital voices is a) when we’re yelling at Siri from another room to play the latest Beyoncé song or b) when we’ve seen Steven Hawking do his thing. And what most people don’t know is that Hawking’s digital voice does not belong to him and in fact this type of AAC (Adaptive Alternative Communication) voice used by countless others regardless of age, gender or ethnicity. Our voice is something that is so unique to us, so it seems demeaning for those who have lost their ability to speak to have to resort to a voice that defies their identity.
That’s why VocaliD’s mission is to change the nature of digitised voices so that every user can create their own voice from a library of donated voices combined with the sound of their own. Each donor is required to upload 3, 487 sentences so that the digitized voice will sound complete and most natural. The timbre and volume of a voice can also be adjusted so that it most suits what the individual is looking for. VocaliD’s voice bank therefore provides the option for those unable to speak to forge their own vocal identity and bring them a step closer to easy, effortless communication that validates their own voice.
What do you think of VocaliD’s new tech? How do you think it will change the perception of people unable to speak? If you have a story of your own that you would like to share, get in touch or chat with us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you’re interested in donating your voice, check out how to do so through the Human Voicebank.