You can donate your voice for a good cause! This is something you might have heard of before, but definitely a piece we’d love to keep on sharing.
Millions of people are affected by severe speech disability. Some common causes are stroke, and cerebral palsy. To aid and restore their ability to speak in some way, computerized voices were made to synthesize speech from text. One notable example is Stephen Hawking, who uses a speech synthesizer called DECtalk. One big challenge of this solution is that it is still very far from a natural speaking voice making the process a bit mechanic. The Human Voicebank Initiative by VocalID would like to address this challenge by stitching human voices together to produce a new human speaking voice that is unique and personalized to the user. The goal of the project is to bank 1 million voice samples by 2020.
VocaliD humanizes the voice inside any machine that speaks. – VocalID
All you need is a mic, a quiet room, your computer or mobile phone to record your voice and donate it to the Human Voicebank. Rest assured that this will go a long way. New smartphones and tablets are generally equipped with high-quality microphones; this makes the recording process easier without the need of a recording studio. People who would like to donate their voices can sign up at VocaliD .org.
“I’m recording my voice. I got to ‘I love you’ and burst into tears! Realizing that I could be helping someone to say that phrase really drove home the importance of the work you’re doing. What an honor to be a part of it!” – CHRIS K., VOICEBANK CONTRIBUTOR
VocalID will use the speech recordings to create personalized synthetic voices for those who are unable to speak on their own. The project aims to generate voices similar to the recipient’s own voice or at least one that matches their body and personality. The synthesized voice will then be programmed in speech-generating devices for communication. Rupa Patel, an Associate professor of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology & Computer and Information Science at Northeastern University, leads this initiative and her research paved the way for the creation of synthesized human voices.
“Over ten million people are unable to speak. Over 500 million everyday devices and applications are narrated by a voice. All of them choose from the same few generic, synthetic voices. Isn’t it time for change? Our voices are not identical — they are our identities.” – VocaliD
VocalID developed matching and morphing techniques that can combine a recipient’s vocal features with the speech features of the matching donor. The Human Voicebank Initiative will drive the project towards generating unique vocal identities to hundreds of voice recipients who do not have matching donors. Right now the project needs all types of voices.
You can help give someone a voice. This in itself is both powerful, and beautiful. Remember that our voice is part of our identity. If you also choose to bank your voice, it will help the project in recreating it if you ever lose your voice in the future.
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