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New Artificial Larynx Gives Laryngectomy Patients a Human-Sounding Voice

About 10,000 Americans every year are diagnosed with laryngeal cancer, and most must submit to the surgical removal of their voice boxes. Machine replacements have, so far, sounded raspy and robot-like. But now medical researchers at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa have developed an device that fits into the mouth and tracks the normal movements of the tongue to produce simulated human speech:

The system uses a palatometer: a device that looks much like an orthodontic plate and is normally used for speech therapy. The device, made by CompleteSpeech of Orem, UT, tracks contact between the tongue and palate using 118 embedded touch sensors.[...]

To use the device, a person puts the palatometer in her mouth and mouths words normally. The system tries to translate those mouth movements into words before reproducing them on a small sound synthesizer, perhaps tucked into a shirt pocket.

Link via Popular Science | Image: Jaren Wilke/Megan Russell, The University of the Witwatersrand

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December 3rd, 2009

Stranger to the World


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