Giving Voice to the Voiceless–Another Triumph for AI/Machine Learning

Key Takeaways:

  • Bioengineers at UCLA have invented a thin, flexible device that adheres to the neck and translates the muscle movements of the larynx into audible speech.
  • The device is trained through machine learning to recognize which muscle movements correspond to which words.
  • The self-powered technology could serve as a non-invasive tool for people who have lost the ability to speak due to vocal cord problems.
Wearable device affixed to neck.

People with voice disorders, including those with pathological vocal cord conditions or who are recovering from laryngeal cancer surgeries, can often find it difficult or impossible to speak. That may soon change. A team of UCLA engineers has invented a soft, thin, stretchy device measuring just over 1 square inch that can be attached to the skin outside the throat to help people with dysfunctional vocal cords regain their voice function. Their advance was detailed March 12, 2024 in Nature Communications. The open-access article is titled Speaking Without Vocal Folds Using a Machine-Learning-Assisted Wearable Sensing-Actuation System.”

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