A new book helps people with MND bank their voice while sharing their story

Motor neuron diseases affect the nerves that control muscles. When motor neurons are damaged, movement becomes increasingly difficult. That includes movement of the tongue, lips and vocal cords, leading to faint or slurred speech. A new e-book helps those with MND bank their voice while sharing the experience of living with the disease.

Voice banking — saving a person's voice for later use in digital speech aids — is typically done through reading a long list of random words, which can lead to recordings that sound robotic. To save sounds closer to a person's natural voice, the UK's MND Association worked with Dell Technologies, Intel and Rolls-Royce to produce an e-book titled I Will Always Be Me.

People living with MND spend 30 minutes recording themselves reading the book; all of the sounds and intonations needed to synthesize their voice are contained within the text of the story. SpeakUnique's machine learning algorithm then processes that audio file to create a digital voice to be used with speech aids: tools that transform typed words or sentences into speech with the same characteristics as the original voice.

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The illustrated book isn't just a means to an end, solely a method to capture someone's natural speaking voice. Written by New York Times bestseller author (and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver comedy writer) Jill Twiss, I Will Always Be Me expresses what people with MND are going through. And it allows children and other family members to listen and relisten that story in their loved one's voice.

When combined with empathy and learned experience, intuitive technology helps fulfill fundamental basic human needs of connection and self-expression. For more on that, check out our JOYNING trend and figure out how your brand can help strengthen those human bonds.

Related: Translating in real-time, Waverly Labs provides subtitles for in-person transactions

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