VocaliD and Tobii Dynavox recently announced a collaborative agreement to develop a new generation of personalized assistive communication devices (ACDs) for people with serious speech impairments, including some patients with cerebral palsy. The partnership will provide recent and long-term users of Tobii Dynavox devices the option of speaking through their own VocaliD voices.
“We are excited to offer this cutting-edge innovation to our customers and provide a new dimension in personalization,” Fredrik Ruben, Tobii Dynavox’s president, said in a press release. “Our partnership with VocaliD presents an extraordinary opportunity for people to express their thoughts and personality like never before.”
VocaliD will customize each person’s voice by blending the patient’s ‘vocal DNA’ with recordings from a matched speech donor from VocalID’s voicebank – comprising over 14,000 donors of all ages, from more than 110 countries.
“Pairing VocaliD’s personalized, natural-sounding voices with Tobii Dynavox’s industry-leading assistive devices is a game-changer for the millions who have historically relied on a handful of generic, computerized voices,” said Rupal Patel, VocaliD founder and chief executive officer. “Every person living with a speech impairment has a unique vocal identity that deserves to be heard, and this partnership will help make this a reality.”
Tobii Dynavox’s users, such as Max Plansky, a teenager with cerebral palsy from Danvers, Massachusets, can finally listen to his ‘own’ voice and communicate with friends and family. According to his father: “Max’s device allowed him to participate in conversations. With his VocaliD voice, Max is now empowered to be himself as he gets to express his thoughts in his own voice, not someone else’s. Whenever he speaks I can hear his soul in his voice — can’t put a price on that.”
Speech disorders are highly prevalent among children with cerebral palsy, vary in severity according to the nature and timing of the brain injury.
Voice donors can also use their own recordings to craft a personalized voice, without requiring any blending. For users with progressive conditions, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), this means that a patient will be able to preserve and digitalize his or her own voice for an ACD.