Creative Commons image via NASA
Ah to be possessed of a highly distinctive voice.
Actress Katherine Hepburn had one.
As did FDR…
And noted Hollywood Square Paul Lynde…
Physicist Stephen Hawking may trump them all, though his famously recognizable voice is not organic. The one we all associate with him has been computer generated since worsening Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, aka Lou Gehrig’s disease, led to a tracheotomy in 1985.
Without the use of his hands, Hawking controls the Assistive Context-Aware Toolkit software with a sensor attached to one of his cheek muscles.
Recently, Intel has made the software and its user guide available for free download on the code sharing site, Github. It requires a computer running Windows XP or above to use, and also a webcam that will track the visual cues of the user’s facial expressions.
The multi-user program allows users to type in MS Word and browse the Internet, in addition to assisting them to “speak” aloud in English.
The software release is intended to help researchers aiding sufferers of motor neuron diseases, not pranksters seeking to borrow the famed physicist’s voice for their doorbells and cookie jar lids. To that end, the free version comes with a default voice, not Professor Hawking’s.
Download the Assistive Context-Aware Toolkit (ACAT) here.
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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Her play, Fawnbook, is currently playing in New York City. Follow her @AyunHalliday
With my amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the first thing that happened almost 2 years ago now, was speaking as if I were drunk. I wasn’t. I initially did improve speech (articulating clearly but slow) but now I can no longer speak in an acceptable way. Then, a year later eating became problematic, I was biting my tongue and lips, and chewing became weak and less controlled. Soon after that some fingers started to fail me and things would drop out of my hands. Somewhere at that time bulbar ALS was diagnosed. The Rilutek (riluzole) did very little to help me. The medical team did even less. My decline was rapid and devastating.. We tried every shot available but nothing was working. There has been little if any progress in finding a reliable treatment, Our care provider introduced us to Kycuyu Health Clinic ALS/MND herbal treatment. The treatment is a miracle.i recovered significantly!