When Age Matters

North­eastern Uni­ver­sity com­puter sci­ence pro­fessor Rupal Patel has dis­cov­ered a niche in which age really does make a dif­fer­ence, though. If you have to rely on a com­put­er­ized voice to speak, there aren’t many options. The auto­mated voice of Stephen Hawking doesn’t quite match a teenage girl’s.

Patel has found a way to create cus­tomized elec­tronic voices. Here’s how it works: A donor of a sim­ilar age and size of the person who cannot speak records a number of phrases that cover the range of sounds a person could make. The person who cannot form full words is recorded saying basic vowels. She mixes the two sets of sounds to make a new voice.

What I’m trying to find is a voice that would have sounded like them, if they were able to talk,” she says.

Voice, she says, is wrapped up in our iden­ti­ties. And in that case, age is an impor­tant factor in finding a cer­tain kind of self-​​expression.

Read the article at NPR →