The Next Voice You Hear? Two advances in voice analysis and restoring speech to those who’ve lost it.
The first is from Cigna International based in Hong Kong which through speech and choice of words can determine your stress level. Your Editor took the Cigna StressWaves test, which requires 90 seconds of answering a question based on one of four topics. To her utter shock as she’s rushing to get out an article or two after a busy day at work and the loss of a good friend in the past week, she was told her stress level was low! The StressWaves test is followed up with an email with your results and a questionnaire pitching Cigna’s health insurance. The test was developed for Cigna by machine-learning medical technology company Ellipsis Health. Other Ellipsis tools for clinicians can quantify anxiety and depression symptoms with 2-3 minutes of speech for initial screening and ongoing monitoring. Mobihealthnews.
The second is about restoring a measure of communication to people who have lost the power to speak through decoding their cortical activity. The research by a team from the Weill Institute of Neuroscience and the University of California (among others) implanted a subdural, high-density, multielectrode array over the area of the sensorimotor cortex that controls speech. This was performed on a person with post-brain stem stroke anarthria (the loss of the ability to articulate speech) and spastic quadriparesis. What the neuroprosthesis did was decode directly from the cerebral cortical activity while the participant attempted to say individual words from a vocabulary set of 50 words. Using computational models plus a natural-language model on next-word probabilities in sentences, the researchers were able with a high degree of accuracy to decode full sentences from the cortical activity. The New England Journal of Medicine article is available in abstract but paywalled for the full study (limited free access with registration). The clinical trial was funded by Facebook and is on ClinicalTrials.gov here for the device and related neurological studies. Also Mobihealthnews.