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The Human Voicebank Initiative

January 21, 2016

I was on Habitica a week or so ago looking at challenges. (In case you don’t know, Habitica is a website/app that helps you gamify your life. You get XP and loot drops for checking off daily tasks, completing things on your to-do list, or continuing good habits.) One of the challenges was to donate your voice to the Human Voicebank Initiative. There was a link to a TED Talk. And I thought, well, I’ve got a voice. And I do like to talk so…
Obviously, the talk and the blog post by founder Rupal Patel is much more eloquent than anything I could say, but the gist of it is that the Human Voicebank Initiative is trying to design personalized synthetic voices for people with severe speech impediments so that everyone is not stuck with the same harsh, robotic voice that you might have heard in an interview with Stephen Hawking.
Now, how do you make a personalized voice for anyone who needs one? You get lots and lots and lots of vocal samples. And that’s what the HVI is doing via their site, VocaliDVocaliDVocaliD. At this website you can request a voice or donate your own. In order to donate your voice, you read sentences, which are selected to cover all the basic sounds a synthetic voice might have to formulate. A full set is around 3,500 sentences. That is a great deal of recording, but you can do as many sentences at a time as you like. I’ve been doing a few every day and just hit 500 recorded!
So, if you’ve got a microphone you can hook up to your computer and have a little free time throughout the day, this would be a fantastic way to spend it.
https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/rupal_patel_synthetic_voices_as_unique_as_fingerprints.html

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