Hey Google

Google Wants YOU: New Technology for People With Aphasia

If you have trouble speaking, you know how frustrating it can be to use a voice assistant such as Alexa or Siri. She starts responding before you’ve completed your thought, or she doesn’t understand you at all. Google has listened, and it announced this month that it was working on “new technology that makes speech recognition strikingly more responsive.” Voice commands may become more user-friendly for people with aphasia.

New Advances

The first change will be where the voice recognition software is stored. Most devices have software that is stored on cloud servers. This means that when you speak into the device, it takes time for that message to travel to the server and a response to be sent back. Google has shrunk the software, making it possible to load it onto the device itself.

Because the software is on the phone and not on a server, it can also do things that are currently impossible with Siri or Alexa:

Google also used its on-device technology to create a new feature for its future phones called Live Caption. Once activated, captions appear on screen for any speech playing on the phone, such as a video from a friend, or a podcast. Because the processing takes place on the phone, it works even in airplane mode.

Because the software is on the phone and not in the server, those captions can happen instantly, matching with the words.

Strokes and Software

Google also has an internal team called Project Euphonia which, “aims to adapt speech recognition to people with speech problems, for example, due to a stroke or disease.” In other words, they are “using AI to improve computers’ abilities to understand diverse speech patterns, such as impaired speech.

Because the software is on your phone and not in a cloud server, it can become individualized and trained to recognize your unique speech patterns.

If you’re excited about this, don’t just tell us — tell Google! They’ve set up a short form for people who are willing to record their unique speech patterns in order to improve the software. Please read their post before filling out the form so you understand what they are asking for.

Other Possible Applications

While it wasn’t part of the discussion, it is easy to see how voice assistants could be used for speech therapy practice in the future. Endlessly patient and with time at all hours of the day to work on the same phrase, having the speech recognition software local in the device could mimic an actual speech therapy session, albeit with a robot.

Exciting advances on the horizon! This is the only information we have right now, but reach out to Google to hear more about this project.

Comments

9 Comments

  • Jill Wright
    May 21, 2019 at 10:47 am

    Google wants YOU – new technology with people who aphasia. Yahoo!! ☎️📞☎️

  • Gail Richardson
    May 21, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    Yeah!!!! Thank you Google!!

  • Anthea Greenaway
    May 22, 2019 at 6:35 am

    stroke + aphasia – please.

  • May 23, 2019 at 4:12 am

    I have aphasia.
    I recording to speech. 🙁

  • Heather Tomlinson
    May 28, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    Wow! This is wonderful news and a long time in coming for PWA. I will be looking forward to having access to this for my clients who are living with aphasia. Kudos to Google for stepping up to make this kind of technology possible for PWA!!!

    -Heather Tomlinson, SLP
    Calgary Aphasia Centre

  • Anonymous
    May 29, 2019 at 10:16 am

    Are you considering EXPRESSIVE aphasia in your designing? Expressive aphasia is where the thoughts do not match the words. The word apple does not mean apple or does it mean the same word each time. Looking forward to an y and all help for my 82 year old mother.

  • Sheila King
    May 29, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    Hope this works

  • Brenda
    May 29, 2019 at 8:51 pm

    I’m a family member trying to understand the expressive aphasia of my relative. His words do not match what he’s trying to say. May have some receptive aphasia as well. Is there anything in the planning or developing stage that can recognize these differences, and translate them?

  • Dr Sikander khan
    May 29, 2019 at 10:42 pm

    Good news. This will definitely helps the people with stroke and Aphasia

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