Speech synthesis is an invaluable palliative to conditions that occasion loss of speech, such as throat cancers and neuro-degenerative diseases.
Voxygen believes that each and every patient should retain the use of their own distinctive voice. This is why we put our voice-creation know-how at the service of preserving patients' voices.
Anyone who suffers loss of speech, whether transient or persistent, is faced with daily communication challenges.
Before the patient's voice significantly deteriorates, we record a high-quality sampling from which we create a full-fledged, entirely personalized voice. Once this voice is integrated with Voxygen's text-to-speech (TTS) system, it allows the patient to communicate verbally through a variety of input interfaces. These may include predictors, pictograms, or push buttons in the case of severe motor disorders.
The capture of the patient's speech profile involves several recording sessions lasting 2 to 3 hours each, under the supervision of a speech or occupational therapist. The resulting synthetic voice is typically activated through a user-friendly app installed on a tablet or smart phone, which can easily be paired with a portable Bluetooth loudspeaker.
We target this “personal speaking aid” to patients suffering from speech pathologies.
According the French Health Ministry, some 20,000 such conditions arise every year in France – 80 percent of them caused by throat cancers, and 20 percent by neuro-degenerative diseases.
Among patients who suffer a throat cancer, more than 20 percent recover the ability to speak within 1 to 3 months after the operation, while 25 percent are fitted with a trachea-esophageal implant, and some 15 percent master the use of esophageal speech after 3 to 6 months of functional rehabilitation. But this low-pitched, strenuous way of speaking is often experienced by patients as a source of discomfort.
Even more unfortunately, 10 percent of patients are left without any palliative. Neuro-degenerative conditions, including Parkinson's and Lou Gehrig Disease (or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), affect some 1,000 French patients every year, and constitute a different scenario. In about 20 percent of cases, they lead to gradual but inexorable speech impairment, combined with cognitive and motor-coordination disorders.
Watch this video to learn more:
Numérique et Santé (Digital Medicine): les voix de la guérison (Healing Voices)
Interception, program hosted by Yves Decaens on France Inter (French national public radio) -- May 10, 2015:
"Our voice is constitutive of our identity. From our first to our dying breath, it changes as we move through life, reflecting what we feel and how we feel. It is an integral part of our sense of self. Permanently losing your voice, through illness or accident, is therefore experienced as a major trauma. It is not uncommon for patients who undergo loss of speech to cut themselves off from their social environment, grow increasingly isolated and even fall prey to depression. To those patients, new technology that preserves their voice represents a beacon of hope."
TTS can also be part of the remedial toolbox when facing various speech disorders.
In the case of dyslexia, Voxygen's TTS comes into its own for word- or syllable-dictation exercises. By providing oral feedback, it helps learners spot where they go astray. By trial and error, they can then correct themselves until they reach an orthographically acceptable transcription.
In the case of dysarthria, Voxygen can provide voices whose intelligibility and vocal stamina can be controlled and modulated, helping patients focus on particular speech articulators as part of their rehabilitation program.
In the case of specific language impairments, TTS is used to vocalize sentences that young patients have put together, thereby aiding them in their verbal-development effort. In France, specific language impairments affect more than one million people.
Avaz is an augmentative and alternative communication app that has come into widespread use, and been awarded numerous distinctions, in the United States, India, Australia and Denmark. The father of a young dysphasic French girl took on the task of translating it into French.
For its French voices, Avaz chose Voxygen – not only because of its cutting-edge technology and of how easily it integrates with the app, but first and foremost because of the realism of Voxygen's children voices, Emma and Matteo.
According to Olivier Fourdrinoy of Avaz France: "Avaz lends a voice to language-impaired children, and thanks to Voxygen, that voice is now a true child's voice. Our cooperation with Voxygen, even though it involved exchanges among multiple sites in different countries, was a smooth, effective and thoroughly enjoyable experience."
Visit our partners' websites to explore how they incorporate our TTS technology into their solutions.
Avaz Together develops and distributes apps that help children with communication challenges, relying on Voxygen voices.
Medialexie develops and distributes remediation tools for persons who suffer from dyslexia and/or dysorthographia, relying on Voxygen voices.
The Spanish company Eneso distributes software and hardware for children with communication challenges, relying on Voxygen voices.