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May 20, 2015 4:42 EST

VocaliD: Custom Crafted Voices – The first-ever custom voices that are unique to each individual

iCrowdNewswire - May 20, 2015

VocaliD: Custom Crafted Voices

The first-ever custom voices that are unique to each individual.
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Rupal Patel

Each one of us has a unique voiceprint. Yet, until now, the millions of people who rely on computerized speech to communicate have been given uniform voices. Voices that don’t fit their bodies or their personalities. We wouldn’t dream of fitting a little girl with the prosthetic limb of a grown man, so, why then the same prosthetic voice?

 

Through years of research we observed that even those who have severe speech impairment produce distinctive sounds when they laugh, cry, and vocalize emotions and intentions. Their vocalizations contain the voice’s source — its pitch, tone, rhythm, and loudness. What these individuals lack is the ability to manipulate their tongue, lips, and the shape of their mouth — their vocal filter. The filter is essential to producing clearly articulated speech. So we developed technology to harness the source characteristics of recipients and supplement them with the vocal filters available to healthy talkers. The result is a blended voice that is as understandable as the donor while conveying the vocal identity of the recipient.

 

 

 

 

In other words, even a single vowel contains enough “vocal DNA” to seed the personalization process. VocaliD’s custom voices are not mere replicas of the recorded samples. They are original creations that fit and honor the recipient — bringing attention to her words and her voice.

 

Tens of millions worldwide rely on a limited set of generic, synthetic voices. Their vocal ability may have been limited due to autism, cerebral palsy, genetic conditions, stroke, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), brain injury, or head and/or neck cancer. Whatever the cause, they share the desire to work, play, learn, and build relationships speaking as themselves, through their own voice.

We are working day and night to bring VocaliD™ voices to market by late 2016. To make this happen, we have set an initial campaign goal of $70,000 to fund seven Trailblazer voices, and a goal of $470,000 to launch our early adopter program. 

Your contribution is important — not only in helping us to meet and exceed our campaign goal, but to send the message loud and clear that demand is strong for personalized voices.

 
 

Every contribution to this campaign moves us closer to our goal of bringing VocaliD™ voices to market by 2016. We’ll thank you with a great perk!

Show your support by sporting our campaign decal and/or customized ‘non-uniform’ T-shirt!

   

Listen to the stories of our beta users. Hear them speak — through their own voices — about the difference that VocaliD technology makes in their lives.  


It is not only recipients who feel the impact of a VocaliD™ voice. Family, friends, teachers, colleagues, and caregivers all benefit: 

  • a special education teacher can now differentiate among her students — not only by their words but also through their voices;
  • parents delight in hearing their child speak for the first time in a voice they recognize as their child’s own; 
  • teenager is empowered to build friendships and engage independently when friends, teachers, and coaches hear her as herself; 
  • job candidate speaking through his own voice connects more easily with a potential employer, helping defy the odds for unemployment among those with disabilities.
 

 

VocaliD’s technology can also be used to preserve and reconstruct a voice when needed. Think of it as insurance against a day when a voice is lost or unavailable for whatever reason. Perhaps a teacher suffering from throat cancer, a lawyer who is losing his voice to ALS, or even a young father, deployed overseas, who would love to read his two year old his newest bedtime story in his own voice.

Whether you are taking control of your vocal destiny by banking your voice for yourself or you are sharing the gift of voice with someone in need, our Human Voicebank recording platform will guide you through the process. 

 

 

Back in 2002, VocaliD’s founder Professor Rupal Patel noticed two people with speech impairment communicating through their assistive technologies. One was a little girl and the other a grown man. They used different devices but the same adult voice. She knew then that something had to be done to change that. 

Several years later, Rupal and her research team were able to apply their findings on the residual melodic abilities of those with speech impairments toward the design of personalized voice blending technology. She founded VocaliD in 2014 to bring this innovation out of lab and into the hands of millions of users. 

Rupal is joined by a team of scientists, software developers, strategists, entrepreneurs, business development experts, and a cadre of volunteers, parents, and advocates who are equally committed to the vision of empowering lives through technological innovations. 

 

 

How is a VocaliD™ voice different from other commercially available computerized voices?

Only VocaliD produces custom voices. These voices are unique because they harness the recipient’s own vocalizations, which are blended with speech from a matched donor.

Is a custom voice really that important?

Speaking in one’s own voice is not a luxury; it’s a fundamental right. A voice is more than a physical signal; it is a reflection of who you are, your habits, your cultural heritage, whether you use your natural speaking voice or you rely on assistive technology.

What part do Trailblazers play and why are Trailblazer voices more expensive than other pre-order voices?

The Trailblazer program is the culmination of our research and development, aimed at refining our voice creation process and integrating it with existing assistive technologies. More resources, more time, and more individual attention are assigned to these recipients, making this first set of voices far more expensive to produce than the other pre-orders. The seven Trailblazers will receive their custom VocaliD™ voices by December 2015 — up to a full year earlier than the other pre-order voices.

My child uses an assistive communication device/app. How can I get her a personalized VocaliD voice and when will she have it?

Pre-order a VocaliD™ voice through this campaign at a significant discount. Pre-orders will be filled on a first-ordered, first-received basis beginning late 2016. Pre-ordering serves two important functions. First it shows that there is demand for VocaliD™ voices, which we need to demonstrate in order to attract investors without whom we will be unable to bring this innovation to market. Second, all those who pre-order will be entered into a draw for three of the seven Trailblazer voices that we plan to build in 2015. 

If you need more time to decide but are still interested, show your support by signing up on our website. Please note that pre-orders will be filled prior to contacting those on the waitlist.  

I have been told by my doctor that I have a condition in which I am or will lose my voice. Can VocaliD help me?

Absolutely. You can bank your voice through the Human Voicebank web platform. We will use these recordings to build you your own computerized voice so that you can continue to be heard through your own voice.

Because this is a more straightforward process than voice blending, we can deliver your voice to you before VocaliD™ voices become widely available. And you can take back control of your vocal destiny by banking your voice today.

Which assistive technology devices are compatible with VocaliD™ voices?

Whether you use an existing AAC device or consumer application, VocaliD™ voices will be available on all platforms — including Windows, iOS and android. We have established relationships with a number of the assistive communication device manufacturers (e.g. Tobii/Dynavox, Prentke-Romich Corporation, Lingraphica, etc) and are continuing to forge others. If you have further questions please contact us at [email protected]

What does the VocaliD subscription fee cover, and how much does it cost?

The VocaliD subscription fee provides updates and improvements to meet your needs and to keep pace with technology improvements. The subscription is always free for the first six months, then renews each year on the recipient’s birthday. The cost is approximately $240 per year, allowing for some variation depending on the assistive technology device with which it’s used.

Are VocaliD Voices offered in other languages?

No, not at this time. We are first focusing on English voices but hope to expand to other languages in the future. Since our donors are from all corners of the world, however, our English voices do capture the range of accents worldwide.

What is the Human Voicebank Initiative?

To minimize the cost and fulfill our commitment to making VocaliD voices available to all who need and want it, we rely on speech donations to the Human Voicebank to create uniquely blended custom voices. In just a few months, over 8,000 people –children and adults, male and female, from widely varying geographies and ethnicities — have donated their speech. And thousands more have pledged their commitment to share the gift of voice.

Who can donate speech to VocaliD’s Human Voicebank?

Our recipients are of all ages, sizes and cultural and linguistic backgrounds, so we need donors to reflect this same diversity. English speakers of any age or gender can participate. Accents are welcome and needed. We aim to capture the full texture and variety of the human voice. So if you can speak, you can contribute. Add your voice to the rich and complex tapestry of voices that we are weaving.

How are donor recordings used?

Each donation is matched with a recipient based on age, gender, language, and cultural background and voice characteristics. The donated voice is then blended with a recipient’s vocalizations to create a unique vocal persona. Donor voices are always blended unless they are for the donor themselves.

How can I donate my speech?

Login to our virtual recording studio to begin banking your voice. You will need a high-quality headset microphone, a quiet room and a computer running Google Chrome. You can also participate in a school or organization’s Voice Drive. Either way, you’ll spend about four or five hours (broken up into 20 minute or half-hour sessions) speaking a series of sentences that together capture all of the spoken sounds needed to build a computerized voice.

I get it — personalized computer voices can profoundly change lives. How can I help make sure that this product successfully comes to market by the end of 2016?

  • Give to the Indiegogo campaign in whatever amount works for you — every contribution counts.
  • If you or someone you know can benefit from a VocaliD™ voice, please consider purchasing a voice in this pre-sell campaign. Not only will your contribution help bring this innovation to market sooner, it will also help us attract additional funding from government and private sources so we can continue to offer VocaliD voices to all those who need them.
  • Donate your speech to the Human VoiceBank Initiative — either on your own or through a local Voice Drive.
  • Become a VocaliD Ambassador — share our story, talk to family, friends, and colleagues, and use the Indiegogo share tools!
  • Visit our website at www.vocalid.co and click on the “Get Involved” tab to learn about additional ways to help.

Is VocaliD Inc. hiring?

Crafting custom voices is a complex, interdisciplinary process. We need developers with expertise in big data, speech synthesis, machine learning, natural language processing; scientists and engineers with expertise in speech science, linguists, signal processing; interface and game designers; as well as those with experience in communications, business development and marketing. We are always on the lookout for talented people to join our team. If you think your background and aspirations are aligned with ours, drop us a message at [email protected]

If I have questions, how can I reach your team?

Please read through the FAQ first to find your answer. We have a lot of special requests, and are responding as fast as possible!

For questions relating to the Indiegogo campaign, you can contact [email protected]

For trouble with your order, or if you would like to place a large-bulk order, please contact [email protected]

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected]

If you are interested in sharing your story and how VocaliD voices will impact your or your loved one’s life, please contact [email protected]

For job inquiries, please contact [email protected]

Otherwise, you can always reach us at [email protected]

Contact Information:

[email protected]

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