To give back to people affected by ALS the possibility of communicating with an artificial voice with human expressiveness, the first “digital ecosystem of the voice” was born in Italy. It is the innovative “Voice for purpose”, the platform of digital technology that sees the involvement of Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome, NeMO, Nemo Lab, Translated, Dream On and Aisla Clinical Centers.
The project was presented in the Roman headquarters of the European Parliament with the video message of the President of the Council of Ministers Giorgia Melons and greetings from the MEP Nicola Procaccini and the interventions of the Minister of Health Orazio Tell us and Sandra Hen – Director General Directorate General of Health and Food Safety (Sante) – and the video message of the WHO Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“Voice for purpose” – born from an intuition of Pino Insegno, actor and voice actor who has put the voice at the center of his life – is a real “library of voices” with a double value. While on the one hand it will allow people who have lost their speech to choose an expressive one from all those that will be donated by people from all over the world; on the other hand, it will allow you to “save” your voice by recording it. A possibility, the latter, which will be accessible to all those who have still retained the ability to speak, so that in the future no one will be forced to speak with a metallic voice when the disease comes to affect it.
“When you dream of something intensely and you meet people like you who are able to be amazed by the news,” he explained Pino I teach, (in the photo) actor and voice actor from whose intuition the platform was born «it means that the dream can become reality, that your vision can be realized. This is the experience we are having with “Voice with Purpose”: on my way I have met highly sensitive scientists, head physicians and entrepreneurs with whom we are transforming my intuition into tools which, through the voice, can give new well-being to those who suffer and a new perspective on relationships.
«The project presented today represents an extraordinary example of excellence for improving the quality of life of those suffering from ALS»said the MEP Procaccini. «I am very pleased that the initiative was presented in the space of the European Parliament in Rome. An important moment to make people aware of giving their voice to give the floor to those who are less fortunate”.
“Voice for purpose” is the first stage of an innovative path which will develop over the next few years and which already today allows the most advanced speech synthesis technologies to be applied for get back to communicating more easily.
«Those who experience a neuromuscular pathology have to deal with the physical limit every day and in this sense technology represents a fundamental tool at the service of everyone’s need for autonomy», Stefano declares Regondi, general manager of the NeMO Clinical Centers and Nemo Lab, who continues: «This is the mission of our technological center that was born in the wake of fifteen years of experience, research and care of the NeMO Centers with which we have taken care of about 20 thousand patients in recent years . With this awareness and responsibility, it is a privilege for us to share this research path with partners of high scientific excellence». Operational since 2021, Nemo Lab, in fact, with its ten laboratories, and the first Italian technological hub exclusively dedicated to neuromuscular and neurodegenerative diseases.
«It’s amazing to see how the AI voices we develop help people communicate with each other.”, he said Fabio MinazziDirector of Audiovisual di Translated. «Making this project work requires the ability to scale on artificial voices to meet the needs of people in different conditions. Every day we learn something new and improve the project through collaboration with patients. Overall, we are proud to offer our knowledge and computing power to this initiative that contributes to people’s quality of life.”.
A result strongly desired by those who work with the voice every day and work for the well-being of people with the aim of developing user-friendly interfacescapable of returning a ductile voice and able to expressing moods, emotions and worries more and more realistically.
«The alliance between technologies, research and clinic that takes its cue from the “Voice For Purpose” platform and aims at the “Digital Voice Ecosystem”» he underlined Eugenio Guglielelli, rector of the Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome and scientific director of the Don Carlo Gnocchi Foundation «represents an important opportunity to accelerate the development of more effective and efficient tools to give people who can no longer speak a speed and expressive coherence always more similar to their real intention. With our research units we will work on the development of advanced intelligent systems which, also through the data provided by some physiological parameters that can be monitored, make it possible to make the patient’s intention and state perceptible in order to give him back a greater capacity for communication and social interaction to support the quality of his independent life.
Above the video message with the vocal synthesis of the voice of Pino Insegno by Paolo Zanini, National Councilor of Aisla
Voice for purpose” – underlines a note – presents itself as an important piece of a broader initiative that in the coming years will build a real “Digital ecosystem of the voice”, the first which will put together the neuroscience with digital technologies, artificial intelligence, advanced sensors and robotics, returning the voice with all its expressive capabilities.
“The loss of the ability to speak with one’s own voice is one of the causes of greatest suffering for people with ALS and their families,” he says. Fulvia Maximelli, president of Aisla Associazione Italiana Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (in the photo), who continues «We strongly believe in this project because it gives us the possibility not only to have a human voice back but, above all, to restore soul and identity in our relationships. Days like today testify how the enlightened alliance between institutions and the scientific community is capable of concretely placing itself at the service of the Common Good starting from listening to needs. Pino Insegno’s commitment goes beyond the limit of illness, allowing us to share our desire for life».
And this value has been transferred in full force from Paolo When, National Councilor of Aisla for nine years using a communicator with an eye pointer. His video message with the vocal synthesis of Pino Insegno’s voice was the true testimony of what it means to invest in a technology that responds to everyone’s desire for life.
All images from the Press Office