For ALS patient Andrea Peet, communication means much more than commanding her phone to text someone or play her favorite song.
“To be able to tell my husband that I love him … it was, like, the most fundamental part of being human,” she told TODAY Show reporter Natalie Morales in a special segment.
Google Launches Project Euphonia
Google partnered with ALS TDI to launch Project Euphonia, an effort to help artificial intelligence tools recognize impaired speech. This is not only for people with ALS but also those with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, stroke and traumatic brain injury.
In addition, Google’s voice recognition technology can evaluate the level of speech impairment, showing the progression of ALS and potentially giving insight into treatment.
Through voice samples, Project Euphonia aims to train technology to interpret and communicate with users of varying levels of speech ability. Up to this point, Google’s artificial intelligence tools hadn’t heard enough ALS-affected voices to recognize them. Therefore, the partnership with ALS TDI is key in the further development of this voice recognition technology.
Uses in Home Automation
Euphonia has a wide variety of applications, including home automation. In fact, the Google team used Euphonia to turn Peet’s house into a smart home. That allows her to control door locks, the temperature, the TV, etc. through voice activation.
“It gives me peace of mind,” said Peet’s husband, David. “It also gives her the independence of feeling like she’s not a patient. She’s a person.”
To help Project Euphonia and Google further develop speech software for people with ALS and other conditions that affect speech, Google is asking people across the globe to submit their voice sample here.
Right now, Project Euphonia is still in the research phase. But with enough data, it will soon be eligible for the world market.