A Tongue-Tracking Artificial LarynxBy Kremen, Rachel; Technology Review,
Publication Date: December 3, 2009
Article features an artificial larynx which uses a speech synthesizer to generate sounds. The larynx, which does not have the raspy voice of existing devices, is intended for people who have had their voice box removed due to laryngeal cancer. In development at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, the synthesized voice system uses a palatometer, a device that resembles an orthodontic plate and is normally used for speech therapy. The device tracks contact between the tongue and palate using 118 embedded touch sensors, and custom software translates mouth movements into words which are then reproduced on a small sound synthesizer placed, for example, in the user's shirt pocket. Researchers report having trained the device to recognize 50 common English words. Work is underway to expand the word database and improve upon a predictive-analysis system which considers the last word mouthed to help determine the next. The research team also needs to improve on the processing speed of the device in order for it to appear to observers that the person's lips and voice are synchronized. A similar system mentioned, in development at the University of Hull in England, uses magnets placed in the mouth to measure changes in the magnetic field around the mouth that correspond to movement.
Published by: Technology Review, Inc. (Website:http://www.technologyreview.com)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (Web Site: http://www.mit.edu )
Link to text: http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/24051/