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Invention Awards: A Real-Life Babel Fish For the Speaking Impaired2009-05-24 23:17:07

The Audeo captures electronic signals between the brain and vocal cords and synthesizes clear, spoken words Neck Talk: Electrodes on the throat pick up electrical signals between the brain and the vo ...
The Audeo captures electronic signals between the brain and vocal cords and synthesizes clear, spoken words
Image from so77.net Neck Talk: Electrodes on the throat pick up electrical signals between the brain and the vocal cords John B. Carnett

Today's featured Image from so77.netImage from so77.netImage from so77.netThe Audeo: How It Works: Three electrode sensors on the user's neck capture electrical signals between the brain and the vocal cords. The device's processor sends the amplified signals to computer software, which decodes them and turns them into spoken words that can be heard through the speakers  Bland Designs

Callahan isn't the only one trying to perfect silent speech. NASA's Ames Research Center is working on a similar device to control rovers and help astronauts communicate even when there's significant distance or noise. That version, however, uses pattern recognition and can distinguish just preprogrammed words. The Audeo allows people to use all English-language phonemes (the roughly 40 sounds that make up words, like "aw" and "ch"), so there's no limit on what a user can say.

The technology does have room to improve. Right now, the Audeo can pick up a maximum of 30 words per minute, about one fifth the rate of normal speech. And learning the "language" of speaking in phonemes takes days of practice. Once mastered, though, the Audeo can do neat things like enable people to carry on phone conversations without making a sound. Ambient is also working on a cellphone interface, with the goal of scrapping the computer completely and reducing the price. "Eventually," Callahan says, "we want it to cost as little as a Bluetooth headset."

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