Personalizing Speech Output for Communication Devices

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1R41DC006193-01
Agency Tracking Number: DC006193
Amount: $199,852.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Awards Year: 2003
Solicitation Year: N/A
Solicitation Topic Code: N/A
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
102 E MAIN ST, STE 303, 102 E MAIN ST, STE 303, Newark, DE, 19711
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 () -
Business Contact
Phone: (302) 224-2475
Research Institution
 Domestic nonprofit research organization
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): ModelTalker is a text-to-speech synthesis (TTS) system intended to be of particular interest to potential Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device users. Most present AAC devices use TTS software that derives from rule-based formant synthesis algorithms developed in the 1970s, but modern concatenative synthesis systems (of which ModelTalker is an example) can provide much more natural sounding synthetic speech of equal or higher intelligibility. Additionally, while rule-based formant synthesis typically produces speech resembling no particular speaker, concatenative synthesis affords the possibility of capturing the voice of a specific individual because it is based on sampling the speech of an individual speaker. This capability to produce personalized, unique, synthetic voices is one of the strongest attractions of concatenative synthesis for AAC device users. This STTR application seeks funding to transfer the ModelTalker TTS technology from the research laboratory in which it was developed to a small business for the purpose of commercialization. In the transfer process, specific enhancements to the synthesis software are proposed, and a new voice will be developed to (a) demonstrate that the ModelTalker TTS system is competitive with existing TTS systems in terms of both naturalness and intelligibility, and (b) provide one of several default voices that will ship with a commercial version of the system. Long Term goals for this project are to bring the method for personalizing synthetic "voices" to the general AAC population by packaging the ModelTalker engine with voice creation tools currently being developed. It is anticipated that this technology will have broader appeal for applications in which people want a unique synthetic voice (e.g. educational software and email dictation).

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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