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What is Voice Banking and How Can It Help People with Motor Neurone Diseases

Dec 6, 2022 3:42:29 AM

Motor neuron, or neurodegenerative diseases, usually result in the loss of some or all of an individual’s ability to speak. However, thanks to modern-day innovations, people afflicted with these diseases can retain the ability to communicate using their voice by turning to assistive technologies such as voice cloning and voice banking.

These technologies have drastically changed how people with these disabilities are able to function on a daily basis. 


What are motor neuron/neurodegenerative diseases? 

Motor neuron/neurodegenerative diseases are a group of pathologies that lead to the loss of the functional properties of the nervous system and the death of neurons. Despite the prevalence of these diseases, there is still no cure for the vast majority of neurodegenerative diseases.

There are many separate neurodegenerative diseases. Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are among the most well-known. Stephen Hawking had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The popular Ice Bucket Challenge was organized a few years ago to raise funds for developing drugs for this disease.

Those afflicted by neurodegenerative diseases gradually lose their ability to move and speak freely. The Healthcare industry is seeking to develop medicine and treatment capable of curing or slowing down the course of such illnesses. Still, today there are no proven methods of treating neurodegenerative diseases, and patients mostly have to focus on relieving their symptoms and improving their quality of life. 

Many new ways of supporting patients with these diseases have been developed thanks to AI technology

At Respeecher, besides creating solutions for laryngectomy patients, we work on projects for patients with neuromuscular diseases, such as Friedreich's Ataxia and ALS. We develop voice models and perform the service of voice banking as in this way patients can preserve their voice as symptoms progress.


What is voice banking?

Voice banking is the process of recording and preserving audio samples of a person's voice. For this, software records a patient's voice and creates a computer version so that a person can leverage it when they are no longer able to use their voice freely. 

Usually, patients turn to voice banking once they are diagnosed with motor neuron disease. Recording someone’s voice before it starts changing is critical to successfully compiling an accurate voice modal. 

Respeecher allows for developing accurate voice models from the samples the patients can provide. Sometimes patients have limited recordings available. However, for Respeecher, it’s not a big problem since the development of our tech allows us to develop voice models from a small amount of data. In a perfect situation, we would need 30 mins of recordings, but we can use less as well. Patients can also use voices from our Voice marketplace.

Thanks to our technology, it is possible to create very natural-sounding voices without artificial robotic sounds. If a person can't use their voice, they can use a voice donor from relatives or friends. 

People with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's, Friedreich's Ataxia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and other neurodegenerative diseases can use Respeecher to replicate their voices and communicate more naturally. The voice model then can be used with text-to-speech applications in the Respeecher’s voice marketplace and allows to do message banking when a person completely loses the ability to speak.


Respeecher’s healthcare direction

Respeecher has created voice solutions for different healthcare cases, such as giving voice to Michael York and helping patients who underwent larynx removal. Aside from laryngeal cancer, other disorders that are candidates for Respeecher's voice revival include Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, vocal fold paralysis, pharyngeal cancer, and dysarthria. 

As technologies, healthcare, and science are evolving at a blistering pace, restoring someone's lost voice is no longer science fiction. It's a reality. With Respeecher, patients can completely restore their voices, vocal quality, signature tone, and cadence.

Our AI-powered algorithms can now recreate lost or ailing voices for anyone. People who can no longer communicate and share emotions using their voices can now communicate using their natural voices with Respeecher.

Respeecher Healthcare and Anna Bulakh, Head of Ethics and Partnerships at Respeacher leading the Healthcare direction, were nominated for the project of the year by the Berkeley World Business Analytics Award.

The healthcare applications of Respeecher’s platform are of paramount importance along with our ethics-oriented initiatives. The application of voice cloning and synthetic media demonstrates the unlimited capabilities of this emerging technology beyond the entertainment industry. This is a great example of AI for good application that improves the quality of life and maximizes the positive use of synthetic media. We are calling for global partners to join us in this journey and make the technology more accessible for the patients worldwide.

Anna Bulakh, Head of Ethics and Partnerships at Respeacher


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