Speech Technology Magazine

 

Overheard Underheard

By Leonard Klie - Posted Sep 10, 2012
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With the 2012 presidential election just a few weeks away, the candidates can now square off in unprecedented ways, thanks again to speech technology and a little American ingenuity.

The President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney "Throttlenecks" apps, created by Politics Full Throttle, a Boston-based start-up, are designed to inject humor into the highly sensitive and polarizing political climate.

The iPhone and iPad apps speak documented phrases attributed to the two candidates. Plus, the app can record spoken phrases that the Throttleneck characters speak back.

Company founder Maureen O'Leary, a self-described political junkie, came up with the idea out of a need to vent her frustrations while listening to the candidates, political pundits, and news media.

Politics Full Throttle also offers a line of political dolls with exaggerated caricature design. Current models are of President Obama, former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Just press a button to hear one of 10 recorded sayings and gaffes. Obama's sayings include: "I've now been in fifty-seven states. I think one left to go," "You can put lipstick on a pig; it's still a pig," "Yes, we can!" and his famous response to Joe the Plumber, "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's better for everybody." Palin's doll makes statements like "You can actually see Russia from here, from an island in Alaska," "What is the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick," "You betcha," and "Absolutely, yup." Pelosi's sayings include "We must pass the healthcare bill in order to find out what's in it," "We are the most ethical and honest Congress in history," "It takes a woman to clean house," and "Anyone who's ever dealt with me knows not to mess with me."

When the political double-talk gets to be too much, "throttle" the doll by squeezing its neck and pulling its head upwards. Shaking the doll or throttling it while a phrase is being spoken produces garbled choking sounds.

Other dolls reportedly in the works include Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank, President Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

Politicians like these have been pushing our buttons for years. It's about time we got to push theirs.


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