As many as 10 million people around the world “speak” through a mechanical device. In the US, approximately 2.5 million people are unable to speak due to a number of different impairments, such as neurological disorder or injury. Advancing technologies has enabled them to use computerized devices to communicate. Perhaps the most recognizable example is Stephen Hawking. Yet, this computerized voice is unattractive, and it is not uniquely theirs. In fact, VocaliD founder Rupal Patel, a speech pathologist, notes that the same computerized voice used by Stephen Hawking is also used by other voice impaired individuals, from children to adult. Therefore, no matter the age, gender, race, nationality, or personality, the mechanical voice is exactly the same, masking completely the “voice inside.”
We don’t think so much about it, but our voice is the defining element to who we are, especially when we are unseen, such as over the telephone. A listener makes certain assumptions about who is behind the voice. When the voice is artificially produced, it is completely unrelated to the speaker and has no attachment whatsoever to the person. VocaliD set out to change this, determined to give voiceless people a unique identity. As Rupal Patel says, “I founded VocaliD to create custom crafted voices—so that every voice is heard.” She notes that our voice is as unique as our fingerprint.
Through an incredible and highly technological system of voice mining, so to speak, VocaliD has developed a digital speech bank. Key to its success is voices, lots of them. Last month, a new interactive campaign called Goldivox, was launched. Modifying the story of Golilocks, participants help Goldivox find her perfect voice. Users must read the text out loud or the story does not continue. In this way, the human voice is recorded, building a storehouse of voices in different languages that can be digitized for use by the device. A special push was made on World Voice Day on April 15, 2016. Since the Voicebank began last year, more than 12,000 people living in 110 countries around the world have contributed more than 4.57 million sentences.
More voices are needed, to get involved visit: www.vocalid.co and go right to the recording button.