A Different Kind of Volunteering

I heard a Ted Talk by Rupal Patel early last year about the need for people who can’t speak to have more than one robotic male or female option for their voice when they speak using a computer. A good example is the robotic voice sound used by Stephen Hawking, familiar and generic.  It isn’t age specific or regional.  Now imagine if you could donate your voice and it would be matched with the sounds made by someone who can’t form words.  This is essentially what Rupal Patel’s organization, Vocal ID, does.  I was so inspired by this that I set about donating my voice for the past year. 

This really seemed like the perfect way for me to volunteer but not have to commit to a specific day or time, as I already feel committed enough to things, but wanted to do something outside of work or church.  It would also be awesome to go at my own pace, even thought it took a year to complete.  

Above is an example of what the set up looks like on the Vocal ID site.  I would hit the record button, read the line, stop the recording and submit the sentence.  It took about 10-15 seconds per line and there were about 3500 sentences to say, or repeat when the recording was too loud or noisy.

My goal screen.  I first felt really daunting to see 3000 sentences still to do.
My goal screen.  I first felt really daunting to see 3000 sentences still to do.

Here are examples of some of the ridiculous sentences I had to say:

Once you are real you can’t be ugly.

An ugly black imp appeared.

He came in gorgeous array.

He made them cross-bars of a scaffold.

He hoisted the coffin to the top of the scaffold.

He thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive.

He’s a capital fellow.

He was merely a delayed meal.

He tied a burning pine-knot to his right hand.

I'm done!
I’m done!

Vocal ID even takes into consideration where you are from, your age, and your accent, to really give a better chance of fitting in in every way.  Once I finished I could already see that there were potential matches for my voice, which was really inspiring.  

If you are interested yourself, all it takes is a computer with a mic (usually already built into your device) and a quiet room.  You can do the recording faster than I did if you have more time.  It certainly doesn’t take everyone a year to complete, but it allows you to move at your own pace, which was perfect for me.

Check out Vocal ID for more information and get recording!




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