While Personal Voice was one of the more exciting accessibility features Apple announced this week, you might have thought that it wasn’t relevant to most people. But a new report today suggests we should everyone Take advantage of it when iOS 17 launches.
This is because aphasia can occur suddenly through medical conditions such as ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). By the time people realize they need a synthesizer sound like themselves, it may be too late…
From Stephen Hawking’s robot voice to voice banking
We are all familiar with the speech synthesizer used by the late Stephen Hawking. He can choose words and phrases to be spoken out loud, but in a very robotic voice.
The next major development was more natural-sounding speech, like that used by Siri.
But the best option of all for those who can no longer speak clearly, or at all, is one that sounds just like you.
This is possible using technology known as voice banking. Your voice is recorded as you speak a set of phrases, and a computer system creates a sound that looks exactly like yours, by learning the timbre, accent, intonation, and timing of your speech.
Voice banking currently takes weeks
Traditional voice banking is a tedious process. It usually requires speaking about 1,500 phrases, and can be expensive and time consuming.
told Philip Green, director of a nonprofit focused on ALS FastCo This voice banking took him several weeks.
Four years ago, when Philip Green transcribed his voice, he had to record 1,500 phrases for practice purposes, a daunting task that took weeks to complete. So he understands why others might avoid confronting him.
“To be honest, you have a lot more on your mind than, ‘Oh, I should invest the time in maintaining a copy of my voice that I might need in two years, six months, four years,’” says Green, a board member at Team Gleason A nonprofit organization serving those with ALS.
Gleeson’s team was founded by former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleeson, after he was diagnosed with ALS in 2011.
“You don’t really think about it. But what we’re trying to do is educate people. Do it as soon as you find out.” [your diagnosis]Because it’s basically an insurance policy that you hope you don’t have to use.”
When it is possible for people to use a voice that is similar to their own, it can be a deeply meaningful part of the experience. “I want my family to hear my artificial voice and not think I’m a robot,” Green explains. “But I am the same person I was before my diagnosis.”
In some cases, you may lose the use of your voice even before you know why.
My mom passed away in December after a short seven-month battle with the disease. One of the first things I lost was her voice. In fact, by the time she was officially diagnosed with ALS, her voice had already disappeared.
Personal voice runs in 15 minutes
What Apple has achieved with Personal Voice is using a powerful AI system to perform the voice banking process in just 15 minutes.
Users can create a personal audio by reading along with a random selection of text messages to record 15 minutes of audio on an iPhone or iPad. This speech access feature uses on-device machine learning to keep users’ information private and secure, and integrates seamlessly with Live Speech so users can speak in their own personal voice when calling their loved ones.
All processing happens on your device
One concern with traditional voice banking is that it is done on a server. If that server gets hacked, it runs the risk of someone getting your audio file, and being able to make phone calls that look just like you.
The company has been very aware of this kind of risk, says Sarah Herlinger, Apple’s accessibility lead, which is why all processing is done locally on your own device, using the Neural Engine.
“Besides accessibility as one of our company’s core values, so is privacy, and we don’t believe one has to give up one to get the other,” Herlinger says.
Everyone should use the personal voice
Not only does personal audio reduce the time and effort of those already diagnosed with a condition known to lead to speech loss, but it’s painless enough that it makes sense for them. everyone To do this, as an insurance policy.
Salesforce Director Brooke Eby agrees.
After being diagnosed with ALS, Ebby took to Instagram and TikTok to share her journey, educate others about ALS, and generally make the world more comfortable talking about the disease and its effects on those who suffer from it.
Speaking to others in the community, she says, “I keep hearing, ‘I wish I had my voice bank sooner. They’re like, “Never mind, that doesn’t sound like me anyway, so I might just use [generic] robot voice. “
I will definitely do this – how about you?
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