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A groundbreaking project part 2: two authentic American children’s voices!

Just after the release of two authentic British children’s voices, we now have an American boy and girl voice available: Josh and Ella. 

Once again, two lovely children spent several days in the recoding studios. “The biggest challenge was having a lot of patience and staying still” - says Ella. Both children had to speak thousands of different sentences that have been designed to capture as many sound combinations as possible. Watch the video to see how Josh and Ella experienced the whole process.
 
During the recordings, Acapela Group collects all the sounds and sound combinations of the English language. During speech synthesis, the text to be spoken is analyzed and each word in the text is divided into sound combinations. The recordings for these sound combinations are then glued together to create a a synthetically spoken word. See the video to see how this works.
 
Josh in the recoding studio Acapela Group's Vincent explains how text-to-speech works
The Making of the New American Children's Voices Josh and Ella Text to Speech, how does it work?

Up until now, children with communication difficulties could only speak with an adult Text to Speech (TTS) voice or with an artificially emulated TTS children’s voice. With the previous versions of Proloquo2Go, children could use two of these artificially emulated TTS voices: Kelly and Nelly. Both voices sound quite robotic. Listen to the new, real children’s voices below to hear the big difference:

Never before were children able to speak with a voice that resembles their own. Additionally the new children’s voices also introduce many new expressions and phrases, enabling the child to reflect their emotion. The voices Josh and Ella will be life-changing for many children with communication difficulties and their families. 

It is a really exciting advancement in the field of augmentative and alternative communication to finally have excellent, natural-sounding voices for young children

- Joan Bruno, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Director, Communication Technology Resources. You can watch the video here.

To understand the importance of this children’s voices project for children who cannot speak, see the short video of Vanessa (autism - 4 years old) and Enrique (down syndrome - 9 years old). Want to learn a little bit more about Enrique? Watch his heartwarming story about how he can now communicate effectively with his family and at school.
 
Vanessa is using Proloquo2Go Enrique's brother Cristian
Introducing the Children's Voices in Proloquo2Go He Always Understood
 
See also coverage of this news in background articles in The New York Times and GigaOM.
 
We are working on adding children’s voices in other languages as well, so be sure to keep an eye on our website!
 
Other exciting news is that all new children’s voices will be made available for licensing in January 2013 to other developers to utilize in their apps and communication devices, allowing even more children to access programs with voices that resemble their own.