Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Audeo devices decodes speech for the speechless

Speech requires a few things: an electro-chemical signal rocketing from the brain, a release of air from the lungs, the vibration of your vocal cords and the phonemic mouth movements of your lips to shape the words. But what if you have a tracheotomy, and are physically hindered from speech? How do you speak then?

You’re probably familiar with the existing technology to measure the vibration of vocal cords and turn it into speech: a little box pressed up against the throat. You’ve probably seen a character on television use it, such as South Park. But the sounds it generates are grating and inhuman.

Michael Callahan invented the Audeo as an alternative to such devices, after an accident left him wondering how life would be lived without speech. The Audeo is a system of devices that enable speech, thanks to three pill-sized electrodes that pick up electrical signals between the brain and vocal cords. These electrodes then pipe the data into the processor in the device, which filters and amplifies them, then shoots them off to an adjacent PC for decoding, which turns it all into spoken words through the PC’s speakers in a more natural voice than can be used by the famous tracheomatic vocal box.

That’s quite the boon of an invention for people who can’t physically speak, but the Audeo technology has other uses… amongst them, the ability to physically speak without ever opening your mouth, which could have interesting uses in future smartphone headsets. NEXT....

No comments: