Speech disorders: they recreate their voice… digital

2 million people a year are diagnosed with a speech disorder. Some of them use “My own voice”. Thanks to artificial intelligence, this French innovation reproduces the voice of those who have lost it.

It’s technology that leaves you speechless. Or rather who recreates it. “My own voice” is a voice synthesis tool, invented by Acapela group, which “manufactures” the digital voice of a voiceless person following an illness or an operation (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, throat cancer , aphasia, cerebral palsy, dysarthria, laryngectomy…). Available in more than twenty languages, including French, this service relies on the “machine learning”. When the patient’s voice is still audible, he can record fifty sentences on the platform. These will serve as a basis for the artificial intelligence to imitate its timbre, its accent, its intonations. He can then enter text directly on the “My own voice” site, which will be translated into an audio version, with the pre-recorded voice signature.

2 million people with a speech impediment

Each year, approximately 2 million people worldwide are diagnosed with a speech disorder, but only 2% are equipped with a communication aid, according to Acapela group. In 2016, the creators of “My own voice” smelled a market. Winner in the digital health category at CES Las Vegas 2023, the Toulouse-based innovation now has nearly 10,000 users worldwide, including 3,400 new customers in 2022 alone. emulators across the Channel, success is still timid in France, confides Nicolas Mazars, its commercial director. However, the result is ” impressive “, according to Olivier Goy, entrepreneur, suffering from Charcot’s disease (ALS). Affected by slurred speech, he was able to reproduce his voice from a simple podcast recorded before the first manifestations of his illness. “Long live technology at the service of health”, explains his digital voice unveiled on the social network Linkedin. If most users adopt this device in anticipation, others, because their voice is already extinguished, “involve their relatives, a brother, a sister, with an approaching tone”, says Nicolas Mazars.

A stunning result

Intrigued by the promises of this jewel of technology, Handicap.fr wanted to test it. It was our journalist, Clotilde Costil, who tried the experiment, the challenge being to be able to find her characteristic slender voice. It has been reproduced almost identically, with a barely perceptible robotic veil. Even his relatives validated this copy “bluffing”. The only downside is that the customer’s digital journey still lacks fluidity. “This service does not require no special skills or equipment, other than a computer, a headset and an Internet connection,” says Acapela group. It’s true… in part. Admittedly, the tool is accessible from a material point of view but it is not always intuitive. Our journalist, although familiar with new technologies, sometimes got lost during the various stages of the recording process, only translated half the time into French.

A fourth version in 2023

Let future potential customers be reassured, these few hiccups should be history in the fourth version. This will see the light of day in 2023, according to Nicolas Mazars. On the other hand, the business model will remain the same: the initial phase to create your voice is free. “Only when you need it should you buy it,” continues the brand. For the time being, the device is not eligible for the Disability Compensation Benefit (PCH) nor reimbursable by health insurance even if “this is in the works”, reassures Nicolas Mazars, without however giving a deadline. You will therefore have to pay 99 euros per month or 999 euros per year (renewable) to obtain your personalized digital voice, the one that will (normally) never fade…

© Acapela group

“All reproduction and representation rights reserved.© Handicap.fr. This article was written by Clotilde Costil, Handicap.fr journalist”

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Speech disorders: they recreate their voice… digital

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