Nuvoic project – Spring 2022 update
Since our last update we’ve continued recruiting and supporting people with atypical speech to test and give feedback on the Voiceitt speech recognition app, and to donate speech samples to help improve the underlying technology. The app is designed to support communication and Smart Home control for people who have atypical speech, with details available on our project website.
Voiceitt at The Maples smart bungalow
In February, the Karten Nuvoic Project team visited The Maples smart bungalow at Portland College near Mansfield, to help make voice controls for their new Smart Home installation accessible for people with atypical speech, through the Voiceitt app. The team at Portland College were already supporting learners to try out a whole range of new equipment via Alexa, including some who use voice output communication aids (see their article in January’s newsletter for details). Using Voiceitt’s speech recognition app, the Nuvoic team made these commands accessible for people who want to use their own voice but who find that Alexa doesn’t understand their speech.
We setup Voiceitt commands to control lights and blinds in every room, to set the heating and view cameras at the front and back doors, and even show what’s in the fridge! With Voiceitt, users can choose the words they want to use and train the app to recognise their unique pronunciation. The Portland team have setup routines in Alexa to carry out several actions with a single command, which we replicated with Voiceitt. For example, ‘Good morning’ will open the blinds and turn on the lights throughout the bungalow, while ‘Good night’ does the reverse. ‘Let’s chill out’ closes the blinds and sets the lights low in the chill out room, activates a bubble tube via a smart plug and plays relaxing music. We also setup commands to control the Robovac (robot vacuum cleaner), and basic commands for the TVs using voice control through Voiceitt.
Sarah Field is a Learning Support worker at Portland College, and a participant in the Nuvoic Project. Sarah trained Voiceitt to recognise how she says each of these commands and demonstrates them in the following video.
It was a great opportunity to gain experience of using Voiceitt with a fantastic range of Smart Home equipment, which we hope to share with other participants and organisations – please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information. Huge thanks to Sarah and the team at Portland College for allowing us to visit and for all your help while we were there!
In the latest phase of our project, we’re asking people with atypical speech to record and donate phrases through the Ensemble website, to help Voiceitt improve the way their speech recognition technology works. Thanks to everyone who’s enrolled so far, through Caritas St Joseph’s, Cedar Foundation, Enable Ireland, The Grange, Homefield College, Leonard Cheshire, Leuchie House and several individual participants too. Between them, they’ve donated over 3,500 recordings so far – a brilliant start!
We’re keen to include as many non-standard voices as possible so please get in touch if you or people you support want to add theirs to the Ensemble! We can offer equipment on loan, technical support, gift cards of up to £100 for participants and funding for organisations supporting someone to take part.
If you or your organisation would like to be involved in this exciting development work, please see our web pages or contact our project co-ordinator: email@example.com for more information.
In March one of our participants, Daniel Burgess, presented his work on the Nuvoic Project to students at Oakwood Academy in Manchester. Daniel volunteers with Leonard Cheshire as a befriender at their Hill House service in Sandbach, and delivers Zoom karaoke and quizzes to residents. As well as testing Voiceitt and donating voice samples through Voiceitt Ensemble, Daniel also supports one of the residents at Hill House to take part in the project – thanks Dan for your amazing contribution!
Our Project Technologist, Geena Vabulas, has also recently presented our work with Voiceitt to over 100 Assistive Technology professionals working in HE and FE at the Jisc ‘Focus on the Future’ event. This generated a lot of interest and several new enquiries from organisations wanting to get involved – fantastic job Geena!
Get in touch!
We would love to hear from you if you, or someone you know may be interested in taking part in testing the Voiceitt app and/or donating speech samples. Please email our project co-ordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can find more information and get in touch via our project web pages.