Voiceitt: Using AI to give a voice to those who need it most

Voiceitt is a hands-free voice recognition technology company that enables face-to-face, real-time communication with friends, family and strangers.

By
October 31, 2019 22:06
4 minute read.
Voiceitt: Using AI to give a voice to those who need it most

Voiceitt . (photo credit: Courtesy)

No matter how hard we try to appreciate the blessings in our lives, we are all guilty, at one point or another, of taking some things for granted. Our senses, the ability to see, smell, taste, hear, etc., are things we don’t think about too often because, well, we don’t know a life without them.

In fact, the same is true in some cases for people who were born without one of the senses. There have been documented cases in which people born deaf underwent experimental procedures and gained some degree of hearing. For the most part, they ended up hating it, because being deaf was all they had ever known. Hearing felt unnatural to them.

But, what if you spent a good chunk of your life perfectly able to speak, then ended up losing the ability later in life due to a stroke, traumatic brain injury, or dementia? Alternatively, what if you had so much that you wanted to say, but were unable to do so freely due to conditions such as cerebral palsy or Down syndrome?

The causes of speech impairments are diverse, and an impairment can show up at any stage in life. There are also many types of speech impairments that go far beyond muteness and stuttering. Sometimes there is difficulty physically using or pronouncing words, despite knowing them. There are also impairments in which the sounds within words end up becoming rearranged, or create unconventional changes in volume and general rhythm while speaking. People with speech impairments sometimes also experience other symptoms, such as drooling, weakened facial muscles, and sudden contractions of vocal muscles.

The bottom line is that speech impairments negatively affect social interactions for those experiencing them. In the most severe cases, it can even affect the ability to function and land/maintain a job. It’s awful, especially for those without a good support system, and since the beginning of time, sufferers had to simply accept that this is now their voiceless life. Thanks to advancements in medical science and technology however, that no longer needs to be the case.

Voiceitt is a hands-free voice recognition technology company that enables face-to-face, real-time communication with friends, family and strangers. In addition, their technology is designed for integration into smart homes, assistive and augmentative communications devices, and smart speakers.

This company is dedicated to restoring communicative abilities for individuals with speech impairments. Since 2012, they have been developing one of the world’s first voice recognition systems for individuals with non-standard and difficult-to-understand speech. Their principle aims are inclusion and independence, and they are committed to helping children and adults around the world communicate freely, spontaneously and naturally by voice.

Voiceitt’s proprietary technology is patent protected, and harnesses the power of AI, advanced pattern matching, and Bayesian networks to analyze the unique speech patterns of each user. Voiceitt technology does not assume a standard speech model, thus, making it the only voice recognition technology accessible to individuals with disabilities and atypical speech.

The origin story of Voiceitt starts with its Co-Founder/CEO, Danny Weissberg. He has over 15 years of extensive experience in the hi-tech industry in entrepreneurship, business development, management, innovation, research and development in cutting-edge technologies of complex software solutions. He tapped into that experience to create a solution after his grandmother suffered from speech impairments following a stroke.

In an interview with TechCrunch, he said, “I realized how we take for granted the way we communicate by speaking. Losing this is really terrible, one of the hardest aspects of stroke recovery. So I didn’t say, right away, let’s start a company. But I began to talk with speech therapists and occupational therapists, and to learn everything I can about the problem and whether there was a market in need, there.”

Indeed the market was there, and Voiceitt was born. Investors in Voiceitt’s seed round of $2m. included Amit Technion, Dreamit Ventures, Quake Capital, Buffalo Angels, 1,000 Angels and other angel investors. They are also supported by a combination of over $11.5m. in government grants, corporate cash prizes, traditional investment and they have Microsoft and Amazon on board as strategic investors.

During Voiceitt’s beta phase, their pilot customers were people in hospitals and schools who have speech differences because of a health condition. It was tested in 2018 in four languages, five countries (the US, Israel, Spain, Italy, and the UK) and over 200 users through its institutional partners, and gained accolades for enabling spontaneous verbal interaction. This was previously inaccessible to many of these individuals, who had relied on bulky and expensive assistive communication devices and – in some cases – chose not to communicate at all.

Voiceitt’s deep learning algorithms are fine-tuned for each user because speech patterns are naturally unique to each individual and their condition. In an interview with Nvidia, Stas Tiomkin, Voiceitt’s co-founder and CTO said, “Everyone’s impairment is different, but there are certain similarities within a particular group of speech impairments. We work very hard to collect speech samples and build a generic acoustic model that then gets customized.”

The company vision is to serve as the fundamental underlying technology integrated into mainstream devices, becoming the provider of atypical speech recognition. Their goal is also to support customers in all aspects of their lives, from in-person communication, to smart home activation, to driving a car.

In case you have not noticed the trend, our voices are becoming central to communicating with our devices. Alexa, Siri, Cortana, etc. all use our voices to access information and serve it to us when we need it and where we need it. Using Voiceitt, users who were previously unable to utilize these new devices now can also take advantage of this trend. Isn’t that what technology is all about? Making our world more accessible and more efficient than ever before.


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