Speech Technology Magazine

 

Professor Hawking Selects NeoSpeech

FREMONT, Calif. - NeoSpeech announced that Professor Stephen Hawking, scientist, professor and author, has selected NeoSpeech's text-to-speech product, VoiceText, as his new voice. Hawking's motor neuron illness, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, has deprived him of the ability to speak, making his computer with voice synthesizer essential for communication.
Posted Mar 1, 2004
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FREMONT, Calif. - NeoSpeech, a provider of speech technologies for hand-held, desktop and network applications, announced astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has selected and is using NeoSpeech's text-to-speech engine, VoiceText™, as his new voice. VoiceText is integrated into Hawking's communicator, E Z Keys, enabling him to clearly communicate with the outside world.

"As a scientist and lecturer, it is imperative that Professor Hawking presents his findings in a clear and concise manner," said Tom Pelly, Hawking's technical assistant. "Professor Hawking was very impressed by NeoSpeech's speech synthesizer, as it was by far the most natural-sounding and realistic of all of the off-the-shelf software voices that he has heard. This technology can help ensure that his vocals match his research in terms of credibility and believability."

Hawking, a scientist, professor and author, suffers from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a degenerative motor neuron illness. While the disease has not affected Hawking's intellectual capacity, it has robbed him of many physical abilities. He can only move two fingers on his right hand and he is unable to speak, making his computer with voice synthesizer essential for communication.

Hawking has a computer screen mounted on the arm of his wheel chair, which runs communicator software. The software enables him to press a switch in his hand to create words and sentences easily and intuitively. Once he has built up a sentence, he sends it to NeoSpeech's VoiceText speech synthesizer, which turns it into speech. The technology enables Hawking to communicate, including writing scientific books and papers and giving lectures.

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