Thought-To-Speech Interface Gives Voice To Voiceless - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Business & Finance
03:09 PM
Connect Directly

Thought-To-Speech Interface Gives Voice To Voiceless

Audeo captures neurological information from the brain and translates it into speech.

A new thought-to-speech technology promises to give voice to the voiceless, to silence cell phone yellers, and to provide a discreet way to query search engines while in public.

At the Texas Instruments Developer Conference in Dallas last week, Michael Callahan, CEO and co-founder of Ambient Corp. of Champaign, Ill., (not to be confused with Ambient Corporation of Newton, Mass.), demonstrated Audeo, a way to convert the deliberate nerve impulses that precede vocalization into digital information that can be turned into synthesized speech.

"What we came up with was essentially a technology that captures neurological information from the brain, and translates it into speech," said Callahan in a video of the presentation.

The technology can't read minds. "It's a step above thinking but a step below speaking," Callahan explained. It requires, in other words, a deliberate effort to think about speaking words. But it can be used to provide those who have lost the ability to speak with a substitute form of vocal communication.

Later this year, Ambient plans to offer the technology to patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, a degenerative disorder that robs those afflicted of their ability to speak and of voluntary muscle control.

Ambient's technology is also being used to develop wheelchairs that can be controlled through nerve signals. It relies on TI's ultralow-power MSP430 microcontroller because medical applications are among those least able to afford battery failure and thus must be extremely frugal with power usage.

Looking ahead, Callahan also anticipates Audeo will have general-purpose applications. "One of the applications that we're developing is what we call voiceless communication," said Callahan. "Take for example when you're talking on a cell phone. Why do all of the people around you need to hear your conversation? With this technology we can allow people to speak silently, and not miss important calls."

Callahan also expects his company's technology could help people conduct searches on mobile devices without typing in text commands. In such a scenario, a cell phone user would merely have to concentrate on search terms and the appropriate keywords would be translated from nerve impulse to keyword text and sent to a mobile search engine.

"We can augment human intelligence by using all the collective knowledge on the Internet," said Callahan.

There are limitations, however. Audeo's vocabulary currently consists of only about 150 words. Callahan likens the performance of the system to the early days of speech recognition. Even so, for ALS patients, he said, the system has a huge amount of value.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
2021 State of ITOps and SecOps Report
2021 State of ITOps and SecOps Report
This new report from InformationWeek explores what we've learned over the past year, critical trends around ITOps and SecOps, and where leaders are focusing their time and efforts to support a growing digital economy. Download it today!
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

Becoming a Self-Taught Cybersecurity Pro
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  6/9/2021
Ancestry's DevOps Strategy to Control Its CI/CD Pipeline
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  6/4/2021
IT Leadership: 10 Ways to Unleash Enterprise Innovation
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  6/8/2021
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Planning Your Digital Transformation Roadmap
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
White Papers
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll