2020 was, without question, a year like none other. While there was division, there was also a tremendous sense of community, coming together to help and support its own. People spoke up, spoke loudly, and continued to speak… all for those that weren't being heard.
These actions inspired us every day because it parallels our obsession with voice, and what voice means. Finding your voice, being brave enough to use it, and being heard authentically - these are powerful moments in a person's life, and these should be available to everyone. Having a voice is not limited to those who can speak. Everyone deserves to be heard, whether they were born with an operatic range or are living with speechlessness.
This is what we believe — everyone has a unique voice that deserves to be heard. This belief fundamentally fueled everything we did last year.
Within the assistive communication space, we have many accomplishments to share. We are proud to have welcomed 7k new Voicebank contributors, including our first from Greenland! And 57 students from the USSG International school in Guangzhou, China, participated in a Voice Drive in 2020! That brings the total number of our Human Voicebank users to over 87K today. Amazing, thank you!
To further this gift of voice - we have launched a Corporate Social Responsibility Employee Volunteer Program. We developed this in response to brands seeking unique remote volunteer opportunities for their staff. We are proud to welcome Verizon as our first CSR partner! Learn more about our CSR Programs.
Many of you know that we expanded our offerings in 2019 and began offering AI voice options to companies. We were receiving a growing number of inquiries in the enterprise business space as companies sought more robust and authentic-sounding text-to-speech voice options. Businesses that relied solely on traditional voice talent began seeking new ways to augment their content production processes — recognizing that their talent wasn't always available when they needed to deliver audible content.
For companies seeking audible content solutions, we recognized there was a need for more diverse voices, so we began recruiting voice talent from a broader range of vocal personalities, regions, and ethnicities for our enterprise-ready AI voices.
We have developed Parrot Studio, an audible content creation platform to further serve our enterprise clients. A first of its kind offering for content creators, Parrot offers efficiency AND customization to the audio production process, bringing AI voice to a new level. Those already using it in BETA call it a unique creative tool that stands out over standard API deployments.
To grow this side of our business we are forming alliances with other organizations who collectively see the potential benefits of AI voice for brands and consumers. We look forward to sharing these partnerships with you as they develop. Stay tuned for announcements soon.
Speaking of consumers, we heard you! In response to continued requests for a consumer voice product offering AND the increasing need for story preservation, we have launched a new consumer product called Voice Capsule. It is a technology-proof heirloom for individuals and families seeking to preserve their most important stories in their own voice.
Voice Capsule captures stories through regularly scheduled guided prompts. Those recordings can later be shared with loved ones or turned into voice-based products such as an audio-biography audiobook. Unlike tape cassettes, voice memos, or videos… we ensure that the recordings are kept safe from accidental loss, erasure, or technological obsolescence.
Finally, as we recap our achievements and advances, Meghan's article is an excellent segue into our technology. We continue to see massive improvements in the speed of voice building and reduction in data needed to create a voice. Today, VocaliD voices sound nearly identical to the individual who provided the source material, surprising those who have heard them side by side.
We are immensely proud of what our research and engineering team has accomplished. Currently, these advances are most accessible to our enterprise clients. Still, we keep pushing for these advances within the assistive realm. We believe those using synthetic voices to communicate should benefit from the latest technology, rather than limited by old-generation speech synthesis. We continue to advocate for this ideal.
Lastly, we are very excited about the psychological power of voice. We have been conducting an in-depth mapping of empathic response to voice, how people respond or feel when they hear a specific voice style. This will help us to better understand how AI voice can be used more effectively. By delving deeper into this, we are excited to see how we can bring our technology to greater heights.
We recognize that speaking of AI voices that sound just like voice talent or using voice to impact behavior may excite people and raise concerns about what-ifs. We need to stress our commitment to ethics in all of these advances.
In 2019 we were a founding member of Aithos Coalition, a consortium of synthetic media companies committed to ensuring ethics in AI. We believe that with every advance in technology we must consider any potential misuse of the technology. We MUST then take action to safeguard against these misuses. Click here for more information about Aithos Coalition.
This year we have grown our team, and in response to Covid-19, shifted to remote work. We are so thankful for their continued dedication and ability to rise to new challenges through honest communication, humility, and the occasional embarrassing Zoom interruption from children, spouses, and pets.
Like many of you, we have also struggled with social isolation, lack of personal routines and professional structure, and detachment from family and friends. While we have been blessed with our physical and business health through this pandemic, we have watched friends, family, and community members suffering significant losses. With all sincerity, we send our love and compassion to all of you who have experienced loss. We are hopeful for what the future brings.
Thank you for being part of our community
- From all of us at VocaliD
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Safe Home-Based Volunteering for Employee Enrichment Programs
CORPORATE EMPLOYEE VOLUNTEERING DURING COVID-19: VOICE SHARING
By Michele J Martin
Has COVID-19 disrupted your corporate employee volunteer participation? Consider adding home-based Voice Sharing with VocaliD to your CSR employee volunteer program roster.
What is Voice Sharing?
Voice sharing is a small gesture — with a huge impact. It is the simple act of recording yourself as you read aloud stories on VocaliD’s online studio. Those recordings are used to train a blended AI-voice (BeSpoke voice) for someone living with speechlessness. To learn more, visit BeSpoke voices.
Our global Human Voicebank initiative has over 76k contributors or all ages from over 120 countries. Their contributions have directly changed the lives of hundreds of individuals with speech impairment who use assistive technologies to communicate - now they have their own unique AI-voice. Voicebank contributors frequently message us to express how taking part in the movement has had a profoundly positive impact on them.
VocaliD is currently seeking English-speaking voices of all accents, ages, regional dialects, and gender identities to help build unique AI-voices for individuals living with speechlessness. Whether your office is based only in the US or internationally, if your employees are English speaking, they can participate.
The entry barrier is low; most individuals will already have access to the equipment required to Voice Share: a quiet room to record (without background noise or others), a desktop or laptop computer running Chrome, stable wifi, and an over-the-ear headset with positionable microphone.
Because of its flexibility, it is a perfect volunteer opportunity for your employees who wish to include their families, significant others, or roommates in a meaningful activity they can “do good” together while staying safely apart.
Easy to Implement
Adding VocaliD Voice Sharing into your existing CSR programs costs nothing. Set up is simple; all you need to do is contact our team at email@example.com You can design your VoiceDrive program to work best for your particular business needs. Schedule participation within a set time frame or create an open-ended self-paced program so that new employees, interns, or consultants can engage and Voice Share at their convenience.
Other Ways to Support the Cause: Voice Sponsorship
In addition to running organization-wide VoiceDrives, companies may choose to further engage with the VocaliD mission by pre-purchasing voices for individuals in need. Voice Sponsorship is an excellent opportunity for companies to target specific communities or individuals — or to help more broadly. There is no minimum participation; your business can choose to sponsor 1 or 100 voices. Please note that because VocaliD is a for-profit organization (albeit with a strong social mission), thus these sponsorships will not be tax-deductible.
Promoting your Participation
This fall, corporate Voice Sharing partners will receive digital participation badges based on cumulative employee engagement in their VoiceDrives. You are welcome to use this across your marketing channels to promote your CSR activities. We are also offering an exclusive digital seal for those organizations that choose to become Voice Sponsors, which participating companies may also use in their promotional material.
To get started as a Corporate Voice Champion and add Voice Sharing to your CSR volunteer activities, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and please include “Corporate Voice Sharing” in the subject header. To learn more about Voice Sponsorship, you can reach us at email@example.com
Together, we can change lives!
Voice Sharing: A Home-Based Activity for Employee Volunteering
Take a look at our animated brochure or download the 2-page trifold below