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— Medical

Synthetic gel could restore function to damaged vocal chords

Whether caused by intubation during surgery, laryngeal cancer, lesion removal, or simply overuse, vocal cord scarring can limit or even eliminate some peoples' ability to speak. This is because the scar tissue is stiff, and doesn't allow the vocal cords to vibrate adequately. Some doctors have tried to soften the tissue using materials from the fields of plastic surgery and dermatology, but the treatment doesn't work in all cases, and the effects are said not to last very long. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard Medical School, however, are developing a new approach - an injectable gel that mimics vocal cord tissue. Read More
— Science

Software indentifies emotions in human speech

Getting a computer to understand what a person is saying is one thing, but getting it to understand how they’re saying it is another. If we’re ever to see a system that truly comprehends the meaning behind the words – and not just the words themselves – then such systems will need to be able to put the words in context. Researchers from Spain’s Universidad Politécnica de Madrid are trying to achieve this by developing an application that allows computers to accurately recognize human emotions based on automated voice analysis. Read More
— Science

Mind reading – scientists translate brain signals into words

Using the same technology that allowed them to accurately detect the brain signals controlling arm movements that we looked at last year, researchers at the University of Utah have gone one step further, translating brain signals into words. While the previous breakthrough was an important step towards giving amputees or people with severe paralysis a high level of control over a prosthetic limb or computer interface, this new development marks an early step toward letting severely paralyzed people speak with their thoughts. Read More
— Good Thinking

Speaks4Me turns images into speech

A few years ago, while searching for a suitable product to help his severely autistic son Callum adequately express himself, speaks4me creator Steven Lodge came up with the idea for a computer-based interactive communication tool based on a successful and popular autistic learning system, but the technology to support the idea was not readily available. That's now changed. Read More
— Wearable Electronics

World's first EEG spelling device reads your mind

The award-winning French movie The Diving Bell and the Butterfly brought to life the memoirs of Elle magazine editor Jean-Dominique Bauby - the victim of a major stroke at the young age of 42, resulting in him suffering “locked in syndrome”, where the brain is active but the body is not. Bauby can only communicate by blinking one eye and, with the help of a patient speech theraprist, writes his memoirs. For other stroke victims or sufferers of brain injuries who have lost the ability to speak and write, communicating with the outside world can be frustrating. Guger Technologies, makers of intendiX, has created a home-based system where wearers of a special EEG cap can communicate via a computer with the special software installed. Read More
— Automotive

Kia teams with Microsoft to develop the UVO voice controlled in-car infotainment system

In addition to its recent 7-year / 150,000km warranty announcement, Kia has created further interest with the showing of its UVO in-car voice and touch activated communication and entertainment system. Developed in collaboration with Microsoft, the system offers users an easy to use interactive hands-free alternative that uses speech recognition for making and taking calls, sending text messages and managing in-car music. Featuring a 4.3” full color touchscreen display and built-in 1GB storage with the ability to rip CD’s and MP3’s onto the system’s “Jukebox”, the open platform UVO system also doubles as a rear view camera when the vehicle is in reverse. Read More
— Music

Austrian composer simulates speech using... A piano?

Remember back in the 80s when Steve Vai used to make his guitar "talk" to David Lee Roth? That video clip is here, but be warned, Roth's bare butt peeking through the holes in his leather chaps is one of the LEAST offensive things in the clip. It seems things have become more refined in the last 20-odd years. This fascinating clip shows how Austrian composer Peter Ablinger has programmed a mechanically-actuated piano to reproduce recorded human speech. And yes, you can somehow understand it. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Getting Parkinson's patients to speak up

The sad reality of Parkinson’s disease is that it indiscriminately affects 1.5 million people in the U.S alone, making it one of the most common degenerative neurological conditions with no known cause or cure. In the effort to make one of Parkinson’s many debilitating symptoms more manageable for sufferers, researchers have developed a new technology to overcome voice and speech impairment by playing a recording of ambient sound resembling the chatter of a busy restaurant. Read More
— Mobile Technology

Sakhr's Blackberry app puts spoken word Arabic/English translator in your pocket

Mobile device convergence is accelerating like crazy, with a new breed of smartphones packing enough power to run an impressive range of software. And some of these mobile applications are getting pretty freakin' amazing - take Ray Kurzweil's kReader for Symbian, which allows blind or illiterate folk to point their phone camera at printed words and have them spoken aloud. Sakhr has gone a step further with an Arabic Spoken Translator for Blackberry devices. You speak English or Arabic into your handset, it transcribes, translates and speaks your phrase back in the other language, breaking down the language barrier in one fell swoop. Read More