The Future Of Digital Voices
46% of Americans use digital voice assistants, allowing them to keep their hands free to talk naturally while typing. It’s a technology that can benefit people with speech impairments, aiding their communication. Speech synthesizer technology has enabled many people to communicate more effectively, but it’s still in its early stages. Several major companies are developing speech technology to improve these personal voice assistants, but this technology can be used to help those who need a voice.
Today’s Speech Synthesizers
One of the longest applications of text-to-speech technology has been for screen readers, particularly helpful for those with visual impairments, speech impairments, dyslexia and pre-literate children. The use of earphones makes reading private in a situation where personal information could otherwise be read aloud, such as emails and text messages. This gives the individual privacy, an important human right. Unfortunately, most current accessible digital voices are adult and male, representing a small proportion of people who have a need for them. They’re also distinguishable from a human voice, usually lacking emotions or expressions in their voice, which can make them feel very impersonal.
Futuristic Custom Voices
Technology that gives children the ability to have a voice or encourages them to use their own has made life-changing differences for them and their families. The future is bigger and better though. Current technology is working on custom made voices for those who depend digital voices.
Stephen Hawking is iconic for his digital voice that was not only robotic, but also American for a man who was English, initially losing a part of his identity. Custom voices can be made from people who have ‘donated’ their voice by recording themselves saying around 1,000 sentences that can be used to form a voice or by people who know that their own speech will decline or go completely. This means people can keep their own voice or have something similar, maintaining a sense of their identity.
Although speech synthesizing technology is still in its infancy, it’s been hugely beneficial to millions of people already. The technology will continue to be developed as many big companies are investing in it for their own technology, but the principles can be applied to make it work for those with speech impairments. Adding emotion and personality into digital voices will be the biggest game-changer and will help people who use it for communication to have a sense of identity.