As Mr. Vedantam begins the podcast, "At some point in our lives, many of us realize that the way we hear our own voice isn't the way others hear us. And we begin to realize that our voices communicate so much more than mere information: they reveal our feelings, our temperament, our identity."
This sets the tone for the next 30 minutes in which voice as identity is looked at from several angles, including a transgender woman's struggle with hearing herself in her voice, a woman who experienced a drastic change in her voice after surgical intubation damaged her vocal cords, and in the case of speech disorders requiring speech generating devices to communicate, how the use of modern speech synthesis technology can provide these individuals with their own unique identifiable vocal identities.
"Voice is about who you are. Our voice signals how old we are. Our voice signals our gender. Our voice signals, you know, things about our personality."
An important part of any technology conversation is "how do you mitigate the unintended outcomes?" and this is something Rupal and Shankar briefly touch upon. With the increase in deep fakes across media, Ms. Patel discussed the vulnerabilities and risks of new voice technologies, from political to financial impacts. She further stated that along with advances, there are ethical responsibilities that companies building these technologies must consider, and how VocaliD has designed ethical AI into our business.
In summary, this podcast is a wonderful introduction into the concept of voice as identity. Be sure to subscribe to Hidden Brain for more fascinating episodes as Shankar Vedantam uses science and storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, shape our choices and direct our relationships.
BeSpoke Voices Named Finalist in 2019 Index Awards
MICHELE J MARTIN
VocaliD is honored that BeSpoke Voice has been named one of 42 finalists in the 2019 Index Awards. Nominated for the Body Category, BeSpoke Voice finds its place alongside innovative solutions such as Thumy, Petit Pli, MasSpec Pen, and Project Coelicolor.
The Index Award is a biennial award launched in 2005 by The Index Project, a global design event that was established in 2002 by Kigge Hvid. While it was originally crafted as a way to promote Denmark as an innovative design nation, the project quickly took on a more global footprint. Its mission is a simple yet lofty one - "Design to Improve Life".
Since their inception they have given out 42 awards in 5 categories: Body, Home, Work, Play & Learning, Community, and a People's Choice. Winning products and team span the globe. Some of the previous winners of the Index Awards include Tesla (the only team to win twice - once for the the Tesla Roadster and again for the Tesla Powerwall rechargeable battery), Raspberry Pi, Ethereum Foundation, Duolingo, Paperfuge, The Ocean Cleanup Array, Labster, Fresh Paper, and the " Copenhagen Climate Adaption Plan".
"I felt it was important to create a solution that would give every individual a unique voice."
When will we hear if we won? Well, the Index Award's ceremony takes place on September 6th, 2019 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Regardless of whether we win, we are proud to be recognized alongside our esteemed global peers in technology and innovation. We will be cheering everyone on... and hoping for a win, of course!
This one hour in depth interview was a deep dive into VocaliD, as well as, the history and science of speech synthesis, providing the listener with a solid understanding of the hows and whys of modern voice AI.
During the podcast, Rupal and Bret delved into the future of computer-generated voice and how it relates to the surge in voice-first products we are seeing (and hearing). The technological advances in machine learning will undoubtedly offer numerous benefits from both a consumer and brand standpoint.
One of the many interesting take aways was the impact that today's advances in speech synthesis will have on inclusivity and allowing communities to feel less disenfranchised.
Rupal explained that if you look at the past - the prototypes for radio and television broadcasting were a very limited voice or face. There wasn't much diversity in the beginning, but now you are seeing, and hearing, a far more diverse range of communities in these two mediums. This hadn't yet caught on in the synthetic voice world however, and Rupal is eager for what will come now that VocaliD can offer unique high quality diverse voices.
"Our world is diverse. From age, gender, sexual orientation, and accents, and we don't hear much of that at all in the synthetic voices we hear around us."
-Rupal Patel, CEO of VocaliD
Wrapping up this educational podcast, Ms. Patel discussed the ethical responsibilities that technology companies must be aware that they hold when creating new technologies that may bring unintended consequences - and how it is important to consider ways in which to build safeguards into the design of your technology to mitigate these risks.
The Flexibility of Synthetic Speech & Personalization of Human Talent
CUSTOM AI-BASED VOICES OFFER A DISTINCTIVE SOUND FOR PEOPLE AND BRANDS
By Rupal Patel
Darwinian forces of natural selection favor uniqueness – from birds to people to corporations. Enterprises capture this uniqueness in their brand. A distinctive logo, a preferred font, a color palate, and now more than ever, a vocal identity. With over 2.5 billion voice-enabled devices globally and 8 billion voice assistants projected globally by 2023, the demand for unique voice is skyrocketing. Corporations want to be heard and listeners want variety.
"In the voice-first era, companies that compromise on unique voice, simply will not be heard over their competition, and that’s not good for business."
Want to read the entire article that was published on Voicebot.ai?
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The New Role of Voice in Brand Storytelling
The New Role of Voice in Brand Storytelling
MICHELE J MARTIN
Historically when the term voice has been used in business, we have talked about the overall tone and thread of messages across channels. Voice wasn’t literal, it was figurative. The voice-first explosion has changed that.
Until now, it was enough for a brand to consider their words and how they would be perceived and whether they seemed to complement and reflect who the company is. While storytelling is a buzzword that is often overused, when done well, it is a way of taking your audience on a journey with your brand. Each piece of copy and content was a paragraph or a chapter - coming together to make up the larger narrative of the brand story. Over time, with thanks to the advances in different converging technologies, storytelling left the page and went to video, went to music, and now… it has come to voice.
Voice AI is the application of state-of-the-art machine learning to speech blending algorithms to transform human voice recordings into the digital voices brands need today. VocaliD's digital, or ‘synthetic’ voices, have their roots in traditional text-to-speech, but Voice AI isn't yesterday's text-to-speech. Today's voices are expressive and diverse. No longer the robotic speech we’d come to associate with a synthesized voice.
The cutting-edge quality of today’s synthesized digital voices allows brands to extend their reach and be present and voice-consistent in every customer audio touch point... seamlessly.
"Voice AI is not a replacement of voice talent, in fact, it is a way to empower brands and talent to augment their current capabilities in order to meet the changing demands of the voice-first revolution and provide consumers with better Voice Experiences (VX)."
No matter where your brand is, you want your customer to associate positively with each touch point, whether that is written, visual, or auditory. If the digital voice you are using across voice-first devices, in your automated call centers, or in your marketing campaigns doesn’t denote unity, if it creates cognitive dissonance in your audience, you risk losing the attention of your consumer at a vital time in their customer journey.
Many brands today have their spokesperson - Flo, Mayhem, “Do you hear me now?”, and even Poo-Pouri… these brands have all incorporated very specific talent personas for their brands. Voice AI is not a replacement of this talent, in fact, it is a way to empower brands and talent to augment their current capabilities in order to meet the changing demands of the voice-first revolution and provide consumers with better Voice Experiences (VX).
The Possibilities of Voice AI
Imagine having Mayhem deliver real-time dynamic messaging to Allstate customers? Predicting every short script that the actor portraying Mayhem would need to record would be challenging and the delays in recording and delivery of the files would eliminate the ability to make on-the-fly changes. With licensing and royalty agreements in place, brands could now ensure that their spokesperson was available both in human and digital form, ensuring full omni-channel residency and voice consistency.
These technological advances and new products and applications have created both challenges and amazing opportunities for brands today. New roles are being created - Voice Experience Designers and Voice Strategists are two that we’ve seen emerge in the last year. More and more CMOs and other executives are talking about the need for their brand to develop an extensive Voice Strategy. The brands that choose to take control now and design their Vocal Personas to complement their overall story will rise above, their message amplified above the noise as others quickly get in line to join the voice-first movement.
Founded by acclaimed speech scientist Rupal Patel, VocaliD's team of speech scientists, technologists, and entrepreneurs set out to create a new universe of voices. Voices that felt alive and showcased the identity of the speaker, rather than a random robotic string of words that lacked in personality. Believing that everyone deserved a voice as unique as them, this work profoundly impacted us all and showed us first hand how important the voice experience (VX) is to an individual. Voice experiences didn’t just impact the user experience (UX), it had the power to change lives.
In early 2018, we realized that voice is more complex and layered today than when we first began our mission. With the explosion of voice-first devices and interfaces, voice has become a robust new touch point for businesses to reach their consumers. It has also become a vulnerability requiring a proactive approach to safeguard it against threats. As leaders in the voice synthesis space, we saw opportunities to continue to innovate and impact with our technology by expanding outside the consumer market we first launched in.
Now in 2019, we are bringing voice to brands, institutions, and organizations seeking out cutting-edge voice technology as a way to provide better products, services, and experiences for their customers.
"Certainly, voice technology is still fairly young and a lot of questions remain, however, what is becoming quite clear is that voice experience (VX) is the new strategy for marketing and c-suite to embrace."
At VocaliD, we foresee voice as a key in the unfolding battle to master and deliver great customer experiences. In a world populated with chatbots, smartphones, voice authentication systems, and smart devices, Voice is everywhere. Voice is impacting UX and making, or breaking, customer experiences.
In order to be heard above the noise in this new arena, brands and organizations will need to become thoughtful in the VX of their customers. It is evolving and becoming a pathway for business development and sales, marketing, research, and operations. Voice is quickly becoming the omni-channel tool businesses must build into their CX strategies. Certainly, voice technology is still fairly young and a lot of questions remain, however, what is becoming quite clear is that VX is the new strategy for marketing and c-suite to embrace.
Voice is more than a way to express words. Until recently, voice technology has used digital voice merely as an output modality. A means to an end. Consequently, businesses have underestimated the power of the voice experience. Voice is a social connection that brings people together; it empowers stories and bridges the gaps between businesses and consumers in order to enhance all of our lives.
Voice has power, particularly when it is unique and personal. People are diverse, shouldn’t the voice we use to connect with them be as well? Today, custom voice can create a new and vibrant world of opportunities for businesses and individuals. Tomorrow? We haven’t begun to get a glimpse over that horizon yet to fully appreciate the impact voice-first technologies will have. Certainly, what we have heard, we are excited for!