Vocalid - creating unique voices for the voiceless
I'm a great fan of social media, and have found all sorts of things through it - useful things such as links to articles I could use for work, or Guiding, and arguably less useful things such as a billion and one photos of kittens.
A couple of weeks ago a friend posted on Facebook that she had finished donating her voice to Vocalid. It sounded intriguing, I took a further look, and quickly signed myself up. The idea is brilliant, straightforward, the type of idea you're amazed someone didn't have sooner.
Many people around the world use technology to communicate as, for various reasons, they don't have an understandable voice of their own. Vocalid takes a donated voice from a healthy volunteer and then blends it with vocal sounds produced by the recipient. This creates a voice which is unique to that individual and yet can be understood. There is a great TED Talk here. It just seems so sensible - you wouldn't give a six year old girl the artificial limb belonging to a sixty year old woman, so why would you give a little girl an older woman's voice?
Communication is so vital, and voices are so personal and unique - I'm thinking now of my friends and family, trying to hear their voices in my head, and the associations I have with those voices, how they make me feel. Everyone should be able to have their own, individual voice.
I've been a blood donor since I was 17 and I'm on the organ donor register as well as the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register. Of course I should donate my voice as well!
The sign up process is incredibly straightforward, you just need an email and a computer with a microphone. Sentences come up on the screen, you press record then say the sentence. You can play it back if you like and rerecord if you said something incorrectly (I had problems this morning saying 'spoken' as 'sproken' so I had to do that one a couple of times!). You can also record for as long as you want - I've done perhaps 40 minutes this week, in 10-15 minute sessions.
If you still need some persuading to donate your voice, watch this video of Samantha getting her own, individual, unique voice. This is amazing stuff, making a difference just by sitting on the sofa and talking to my laptop.