AI Gives a Voice for People With Speech Limitations

A stand-alone app with voice recognition gives the gift of speech.

Feb 15, 2024
AI Gives a Voice for People With Speech Limitations | A stand-alone app with voice recognition gives the gift of speech.

Being able to communicate with others is the key to living a full life. For people with speech disabilities who frequently struggled to make themselves understood, there is now a stand-alone platform that has given them the gift of speech.

The mission of Voiceitt, an Israeli  startup, is to empower people with speech disabilities to be understood by voice. The aim of the company, according to a press release, was to create an affordable voice recognition tool, using artificial intelligence (AI), to help people who have an underlying medical condition, disability, or age-related condition that makes their speech difficult to understand. The tool allows these people to be able to communicate with others and to live a more independent life.

The inspiration behind Voiceitt
The inspiration for the app came from real life experiences, reported NoCamels. Sara Smolley, the co-founder and VP partnership of Voiceitt, grew up with a grandmother who had lost her speech due to early onset Parkinson’s disease.

“More than anything, it was her speech that was impacted,” Smolley told NoCamels. “Of course, that affected her ability to build a relationship with my brothers and me, as we couldn’t understand what she was saying.”

She was not alone. Co-founder Danny Weissberg, a veteran software developer, had a close relative who lost her ability to speak after a stroke.

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As a result of these experiences, the partners realized that with enough time and contact, caregivers and family members could understand the speech patterns of these people who could not fully use their voices. “[It’s] Just like a mother understands her child,” Smolley said. “It became our mission to help people communicate by voice.” 

How the Voiceitt works
Voiceitt is a web-based platform that can be accessed from any internet-connected devices like computers or smartphones without having to download a program or application. It works as a voice to text or as a voice to synthesized speech. This allows the person using it to have a face-to-face or participate in a virtual online conversation.

The AI technology is based on machine learning and speech recognition algorithms that are unique to each user. Voiceitt asks a new user to repeat dozens of words, phrases and sentences to learn the speech patterns.

“In this new world of voice-activated smart homes, smart cars, smart speakers, smart appliances, we could do a lot more by not just building a product, but essentially opening the world of these new technologies for people with speech disabilities,” Smolley explained.

It took the company years to develop the technology and it was launched in 2023. This is now the second version of Voiceitt. The new version is even more advanced and user friendly than the first. That’s because it shortened the onboarding process. It is also hands-free and accessible for people with physical disabilities.

Voiceitt product manager Michael Cash, who has cerebral palsy, played an important role in the development of the second version. “I’m able to dictate emails and work-related documents, which is a lot quicker than typing on a keyboard,” Cash said “I can even use it on my phone to send WhatsApp messages and emails.” 

In the few months since the upgraded platform went live, the company has focused on developing partnerships with companies and organizations to use the technology on their own platforms.

“What is so meaningful for us is through communication to allow the person to be their best selves, whether it’s at work or in their personal lives,” Smolley said. “And communication is so pivotal to that.” 

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.