RSS

A groundbreaking project: two authentic British children's voices

After months of keeping this very exciting project top secret, we are very happy to finally tell you about the new children’s voices for Proloquo2Go. As a first in the industry, AssistiveWare and Acapela Group have developed two authentic British children’s voices: Harry and Rosie.

Up until now, children with communication difficulties could only speak with an adult Text to Speech (TTS) voice or artificially emulated children’s TTS voices that sounded robotic and not genuine. With the previous versions of Proloquo2Go, children could use two of these artificially emulated children’s voices: Kenny and Nelly. The difference between the new, real voices and the old ones is striking. Listen to the samples below to make a comparison:
 

Creating the new voices took more than 2,500 hours of research, recording, processing and development. With Text to Speech, any text can be spoken. This is achieved by analyzing the text to be spoken and dividing each word into sound combinations. During the recording sessions, Acapela Group collects all the sounds and sound combinations of the English language. Then, during the speech synthesis process, these sounds are glued together to create a word. Do you want to learn a little bit more about this process? Watch Vincent Pagel, Head of Research and Development at Acapela Group, explaining how it works.

Aside from all the technical work, the project also took the talent of two British children. They spent days in the recording studios speaking the strangest sentences (designed to capture as many sound combinations as possible), such as “She likes a new frog every Sunday and her birthday every new month”. Watch the video below for a peek behind the scenes.

Acapela Group's Vincent explains how text-to-speech works Harry in the recording studios
Text to Speech, how does it work? The Making of the New British Children's Voices Harry and Rosie

With Harry and Rosie, children can finally speak their thoughts and needs with a voice that resembles their own. It will be life-changing for children who have difficulty speaking.

These new voices will make such a difference to them and to their families - in particular, in terms of enabling them to be included, to have normal relationships with their peers and enjoy everything that so many other children take for granted

- England’s National AAC coordinator Anna Reeves. You can watch the video here.

Ruby, a 6-year-old girl from England, is diagnosed with autism and a speech disability. She has been using Proloquo2Go since February 2012 and now also uses the new voice Rosie. She is now finally been able to say what she wants with a human sounding Text to Speech voice that sounds like a girl of her own age. Watch her complete story.
 
Anna Reeves, England’s National AAC coordinator, shares her thoughts on the new children's voices Ruby using her iPad with Proloquo2Go
Giving Children a Voice of Their Own It's All There - Ruby with Proloquo2Go Using the New Rosie Voice
 
We are working hard on adding other children’s voices, including American voices, so be sure to keep an eye on our website!
 
Also, what is really nice is that after December 2012, these new voices will be available for licensing to other developers to utilize in their apps and communication devices, allowing even more children to access programs with voices that resemble their own.