Consumer Electronics Favorite 5: my-own-voice

Roughly every other weekday through the rest of January, BridgingApps will publish a blog post featuring one “Favorite 5” item from our recent article “Consumer Technology, Assistive Technology, and the Latest in Electronic Tech.” (For the full list, see the last section of the Consumer Technology article, “BridgingApps Picks for the Best New Consumer Technologies.”)

To someone born with a disability or acquiring one before the age of long-term memory, finding the right assistive-technology option means a welcome introduction to new opportunities. For someone who becomes disabled later on, however, nothing can ever fully replace what was lost. It’s hard enough when major adjustments are necessary for playing sports, going to movies, or continuing other favorite activities. What’s often worse is feeling that one has lost a key piece of personal identity: the sharp memory he took pride in, the legs that carried her on weekly hikes, the voice everyone said was so distinctive.

The best assistive technology is designed to help users retain all possible dignity and uniqueness of identity. Such is the aim behind my-own-voice, from text-to-speech provider Acapela Group. Designed for people facing deterioration of natural speech abilities, the technology records real voices while they still function, then creates a personal text-to-speech program that duplicates the original voice. Users can now sound like themselves long after their physical voices fade.

My-own-voice “speaks” over 20 languages/dialects and has already registered over 10,000 accounts. Getting started is simple:

  • Register online for a my-own-voice account.
  • Record 50 sentences for the program to work with (this takes about 10 minutes).
  • Use the online type-and-talk interface to approve your new digital voice. (You may want to get backup approval from friends or family members, since most people have difficulty judging their own voices from a recording.)

This initial process is free of charge. Once a user is satisfied with the digital voice, there is a download fee for each app it is used with.

See Acapela’s Learn More and FAQ pages for additional information.

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