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Project Revoice gives voices back to ALS patients — digitally


The ALS Association on Thursday launched Project Revoice, an international initiative to help people with ALS (also known as motor neuron disease) record their voices so they still use their “voice” after they lose their ability to speak. The new technology, powered by the Canadian company Lyrebird, can recreate high-quality voices with only a few hours of “voice banking.”  

To demonstrate the power of this innovation, Project Revoice has given Pat Quinn, co-founder of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a re-creation of his voice. Quinn did not bank his voice before ALS robbed him of his ability to speak, but using footage from his many Ice Bucket Challenge interviews, Project Revoice was able to clone his voice. To view a video of Quinn’s story, click here.

“This takes speech tech to a whole new level and means everything to how I communicate,” Quinn said in a news release. “I really didn’t like to hear my old computer voice, so I often avoided getting involved in conversations. This technology gives me back a vital piece of myself that was missing.” 

Project Revoice is now working to encourage ALS/MND communities around the world to record their voices so they can be digitally recreated in the future. The project aims to encourage all those with voice degenerative diseases to record and preserve their voices, with a view toward making the Project Revoice application available — at no cost — to the entire ALS/MND community by the end of 2018.

“We wanted to create that urgency now for patients to preserve their voices — we didn’t want to wait until December,” said Josh Nuss, executive director of the Iowa chapter. “It is something that our patients will definitely want to be a part of.” 

The Iowa chapter will be involved as a resource for assisting patients who want to take part in the project, primarily by providing guidance and education, Nuss said. “If they need any kind of help with equipment to do the high-quality voice recording, we can assist with that,” he added. The project won’t cost the chapter anything, other than staff and volunteer time. 

To learn more and to sign up for updates on Project Revoice, visit www.projectrevoice.org. To hear how your re-voiced voice might sound, you can check a lower-quality demo version at www.lyrebird.ai.

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