Respeecher Helps Patients with Speech Disabilities Recover Their Voice

Despite all the controversies, there is one thing that unites people around the adoption of modern technologies — when modern technologies transform and advance healthcare outcomes.

Now more than ever, those with illnesses and disabilities can choose from various gadgets, mobile applications, and other types of devices, all designed to make their lives easier. Thanks to technological innovations, people can get around many of the limitations caused by health conditions.

Voice cloning is one of these types of technologies that is capable of drastically changing the way people with speech and voice disabilities function on a daily basis. Respeecher expands on the positive impacts of voice cloning by helping patients that went through larynx removal recover the quality of their own voice and live a more normal life.


The Challenge

A laryngectomy is the surgical removal of the larynx (or voice box). It is usually done to treat severe or advanced-stage cases of laryngeal cancer. As a result of the surgery, patients lose their ability to speak and have to rely on voice-assistance technologies such as an electrolarynx or tracheoesophageal voice prosthesis (TEP).

However, there are certain challenges regarding these two ways of “fixing” voice disabilities.

Today, with an electrolarynx, patients must use various noise-reduction techniques and filtering systems to improve speech intelligibility. Currently, the technology responsible for improving electrolaryngeal speech intelligibility still has a long way to go. And while TEP speech is more natural than electrolarynx speech, it is still much less natural sounding than normal laryngeal speech.

These methods seek to restore a patient's ability to speak. The only issue is the low quality of voice that these technologies produce. Communication difficulties affect patients in their jobs, personal relationships, and social gatherings. Due to the lack of a mechanism that is capable of sufficiently improving the intelligibility of the electrolarynx and TEP speech, Respeecher’s voice cloning solution is here to help.


The Solution

In order to help laryngeal cancer patients achieve a higher quality of life, Respeecher is exploring the use of its technology on voice samples of electrolarynx and tracheoesophageal voice. The solution offers real-time intelligible voice replacement to improve support specifically for individuals who have undergone a laryngectomy.

Respeecher’s voice-changing technology transforms the unnatural sound of electrolarygeal and TEP speech into clearer, more articulated, and more intelligible audio. In particular, the technology dampens the mechanical hum of the electrolarynx and TEP voices while accentuating the natural tonal inflections. This makes it much easier to communicate with the patient.

The technology is deployable using a modified phone. Patients can communicate live through a speaker or use the technology for phone calls and other electronic voice communications. This is particularly important since patients report encountering the most difficulties when communicating with businesses and strangers.


The Result

After trialing voice cloning for laryngeal cancer patients, Respeecher was able to achieve a natural-sounding voice while preserving the patient's articulation.

Check below to compare the original voice samples from laryngectomy patients who use an electrolarynx and who underwent tracheoesophageal voice prosthesis with the Respeecher’s results after we input the samples into our voice synthesis technology. 

Electrolarynx before 1 Electrolarynx after 1
Electrolarynx before 2 Electrolarynx after 2
TEP speech before TEP speech after to male voice TEP speech after to female voice


Voice Cloning as an Assistive Tech

Respeecher’s first step in understanding that our technology can be helpful for people with voice health conditions, was the case with the actor Michael York

About ten years ago, the actor Michael York discovered he was suffering from amyloidosis. One of the most common symptoms of amyloidosis is swelling of the tongue, which makes it more difficult for people to speak clearly.

The actor decided to promote awareness of the disease by producing and narrating a short animated film to help physicians, medical students, patients, and people all around the world better understand the condition. 

As medicine and science are constantly evolving, the animated film had to be updated with a new dialog. The team hoped to record York’s voice to make edits. But it quickly became clear that the current state of his voice was drastically different from the voice he had when narrating the film. The production team cooperated with Respeecher to create a synthetic copy of the actor’s voice and prolong the life of his meaningful film. Learn more about his story here.

Today, Respeecher’s voice cloning algorithms can deliver critical benefits as an assistive technology to many of those who have lost their natural ability to speak.  People who suffer from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), Spinal bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA), Primary lateral sclerosis (PLS), Progressive muscular atrophy (PMA),  laryngectomy and others, can greatly benefit from the technology. 

Respeecher is here to help eliminate communication barriers and give people a new quality of life.

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