June 16, 2024
Whispp brings electronic larynx voice boxes into this millennium | TechCrunch


Having a voice is important – figuratively and literally – and not being able to speak is a major impediment to communication. Whispp is working to change the game for individuals with speech disorders and voice disabilities, bringing voice boxes into the current millennium with its groundbreaking AI-powered assistive speech and phone-calling app.

At CES 2024, the company launched its newest phone-calling feature that converts whispered and vocal cord-impaired speech into a user’s natural voice in real time.

“Voice disabilities and speech disorders like stuttering significantly impact a person’s life and happiness,” said Whispp co-founder and CEO Joris Castermans. “Our solution aims to empower individuals in their daily lives and work. We’re not just transforming voices; we’re advancing communication by making it accessible to all and enhancing quality of life.”

Unlike traditional voice conversion technologies, Whispp’s app uses AI to convert voiceless speech into natural and voiced speech in real-time. This technology is scalable due to its language-independent nature – and perhaps most intriguingly, users can also recreate their unique voice by providing recordings of their past or current healthy voice, adding a personalized touch to their communication.

Whispp is a game changer, accommodating a broad spectrum of voice types — from whispers to rough speech resulting from total laryngectomy after throat cancer. The app is particularly effective for several disorders where deliberately steering the voice towards whispering is beneficial due to neurological changes in the speech system.

Castermans stutters himself and discovered that his stuttering is significantly reduced when whispering. The company says research shows that people who stutter severely can reduce their stuttering frequency by an average of 85% while whispering. It also transpires that those suffering from spasmodic dysphonia or recurrent respiratory papillomatosis speak much more relaxed and fluently when they whisper. Unlike conventional speech-to-text approaches with noticeable latency and uneven conversational flow, Whispp’s real-time speech conversion eliminates barriers to natural communication.

The company produced a video, which… I mean, just watch it. It’s 90 seconds. You can afford to shed some tears today:

 

“We’ve been researching this for five years, and our product launch today marks a huge milestone. Today’s product launch is for phone call functionality. You can download our iOS or Android app from the app stores, and try it out yourself,” Akash Raj, CTO at Whispp, shares in an interview with TechCrunch at CES. “We have a subscription-based model. Currently, we have 50% early-bird sale, putting the cost a $9.99 per month.”

In 2023, Whispp introduced asynchronous message texts, enhancing overall communication by allowing messages to be exchanged at the recipient’s pace, adding flexibility and convenience to the platform. Now, with its new product features, Whispp can accommodate an even more diverse range of voice types and conditions. Even in noisy environments, Whispp enables clear communication and the ability to maintain one’s clarity of speech regardless of external disturbances.

I once spoke at a wedding on behalf of my best friend’s father. Not long before the wedding, his dad had a laryngectomy. It was a powerful and beautiful thing, speaking for someone else in such an emotional moment – but as I’m writing this, I’m finding myself wishing this technology had been available then, so he could have spoken to his son and new daughter-in-law in his own voice.

Whispp is a whisper of fresh air at CES this year – I love a good tech solution to a real human problem. It is truly a beacon of hope for individuals with speech disorders and voice disabilities and a testament to the transformative power of technology.

Read more about CES 2024 on TechCrunch



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