There can be a problem when some people with speech challenges are not well understood by electronic means. It takes a special effort to collect and analyze the speech patterns of disabled and speech impaired people.
Project Relate is a voice transcription tool for those with speech impairments. The “Listen” function turns the user’s speech directly into text, so it can be pasted elsewhere or read by others. “Repeat” listens first then repeats what they’ve said in a voice that’s hopefully clearer. “Assistant” basically forwards their transcribed speech directly to Google Assistant for common tasks like playing music or asking about the weather.
Google is currently collecting as much data as possible, and have built a database of over a million speech samples by volunteers. This was used to train up what might be called the base level of intelligence for the speech-recognition AI. But like any other ML system, the more data — and the more specific that data is to the individual use case — the better. “We know the community of people with speech impairments is incredibly diverse and how people will interact with Project Relate may be different,” said Julie Cattiau, Google Research product manager in an email to TechCrunch. “We want to avoid assuming what our target audience needs and the best way to do that is to build our product hand in hand with the people who will be using it. By engaging in testing with an initial group of people, we can better understand how our application will work for people in their daily lives, how accurate it will be and what areas of improvement there might be, before we expand to a broader audience.”
The company is recruiting a first round of real-world testers to use the app regularly. The first step will be to record a set of phrases, which will be integrated with the speech model to better cater to their speech patterns. If you think this could be helpful in your everyday life, feel free to sign up as a potential volunteer and maybe you’ll help make the app better for everyone. You can sign up as a volunteer here.