TED Talks: Synthetic voices

The human voice – and the way we interpret it – has evolved into much more than the processing of vibrating molecules in along sound waves. Most of us are not even aware of the science involved and the complex system of muscles that work together for us to produce our voices – myself included. The pitch, tone, timbre, pronunciation, accent and language (etc) are all used by us as a way of expressing our own self, our personality, our intentions, our emotions and much more.

Spare a thought then for the people who have speech disorders of all levels, especially those with severe speech disorders. Some people with severe speech disorders are ‘lucky enough’ to have access to computers and audio devices to communicate. Surprisingly though these devices are still only available with a few voice options.

We all know of the British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking – who has an American accent?! Why should this be? This is the same for many people using the computers and audio devices to communicate. Shouldn’t we be able to, and don’t they have the right to, speak with their own voice?

Rupal Patel – a speech scientist – has given this talk via TED talks where she shares her work to engineer unique voices for the voiceless and the vocaliD project.

I am very excited about this project, I look forward to contributing, I’ve submitted my details – so should you! Contribute here.