Photo courtesy of Voiceitt
Speech recognition company Voiceitt is making it easier for people with non-standard speech to communicate with those around them and to use voice command devices with the release of its app on the Apple Store.
The app, which is being offered for free for a limited time, is designed for people with speech disabilities, impairments or disorders. It utilizes machine learning algorithms to learn users’ speech patterns and then translates phrases into typical speech that can be understood by others.
Voiceitt can be used conversationally or to control smart home devices like Amazon’s Alexa. To set it up, users first train the app with phrases they want to translate in a process that typically takes under five minutes per phrase, according to the company. The app can recognize trained phrases in any language to converse with others in real time or to control connected devices.
As people continue to use the Voiceitt app, it will adapt and improve over time, the company said. In fact, the app uses shortcuts that let users say part of a trained phrase and it will say the rest.
WHY IT MATTERS
Between 5% and 10% of Americans have some form of communication disorder, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Communication disorders can be acquired through injury, developed over time, or the result of another condition such as cerebral palsy, ALS or Down syndrome.
Not only do these disorders make it more difficult for people to communicate, but they can also result in higher levels of unemployment and lower income levels, according to Screening for Speech and Language Delays and Disorders in Children Age 5 Years or Younger. The ASHA estimates that these disorders cost the U.S. approximately $154 billion to $186 billion every year.
“Everyone deserves to be able to express themselves and to be understood,” Danny Weissberg, Voiceitt CEO and cofounder, said in a statement.
“With this launch, countless people with non-standard speech will be able to use their own voice to easily communicate with caregivers, loved ones and even their smart home devices. I’m so proud to make our technology available to this wonderful community. Voice recognition technology is finally becoming accessible to everyone.”
THE LARGER TREND
Voiceitt raised $10 million last summer to support people with speech impairments during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Voice technology is becoming more popular in healthcare, and more than half of consumers surveyed in 2019 said they wanted to use voice assistants for healthcare.
A number of other companies are using the tech to address the needs of people with speech and/or hearing difficulties. In 2019, Google announced Project Euphonia to create algorithms that can understand diverse speech patterns and impairments. There’s also VocaliD, which creates unique digital voices for people using any device that turns text into speech, and Ava, which provides live captioning that can distinguish different voices.