An individual’s voice is often a very distinguishing characteristic. We are often (not always!) able to make accurate assumptions about an individual solely by hearing their voice, including age, mood, personality, gender, ethnicity, etc. Often times we are able to identify others, just by the sound of their voice. Our voices are an integral part of our identity. So how would you feel if one day your voice was gone? Or if your voice was no longer your own? Or worse yet, you never had a voice of your own at all? Unfortunately, this is a reality for many individuals.
Dr. Rupal Patel is the founder and CEO of a company called VocaliD and she is on a quest to provide every individual with their own unique voice, regardless of their vocal ability. Dr. Patel came up with the idea of VocaliD after attending an assistive technology conference where she realized many individuals, many incredibly different individuals with different assistive technology devices, all had the same “voice”. She was struck by the fact that their voices did not fit their bodies or personalities. That was the driving force behind the concept of VocaliD.
VocaliD crafts unique voices or “vocal identities” as they like to call it, by combining components of a similarly matched donor’s voice with that of the individual receiving the voice. The vocal components are overlaid in order to create a voice that is completely unique. The company also allows individuals to select a completely unique voice of their own, rather than combining components of their voice with that of a donor. They even provide a service to individuals who currently have their own voice, but are at risk of losing it, in particular, individuals with degenerative diseases that impact voice and vocal function. These individuals can store their voices in a database where they can later be used on an assistive technology device when verbal output is no longer a feasible mode of communication.
To learn more about VocaliD, visit their website at https://vocalid.ai/about-us/ and here is a video that captures some of the amazing things that VocaliD is doing for individuals in need of their own vocal identities https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6QhgQqxdew
-Mary C. MA CF-SLP, TSSLD
VocaliD, Inc. (2019). Retrieved from https://vocalid.ai/