The ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) is proud to have been a part of the beginnings of Project Euphonia at Google. The mission of Project Euphonia is to leverage research initiatives at Google to help people who have difficulty speaking because of neurologic conditions, like ALS, communicate and gain independence.
The premise is that existing speech recognition tools have not been trained on enough ALS-affected voices yet to optimize an algorithm to recognize them. As a part of Project Euphonia, many participants in the ALS TDI Precision Medicine Program (PMP) have recorded hundreds or thousands of specific phrases in order to train these algorithms – allowing mobile phones, computers, and other smart devices to more reliably recognize, transcribe, and respond to the phrases expressed.
The ALS TDI partnership with Google on Project Euphonia has been featured on the TODAY show, as well as in episode two of “The Age of A.I.,” a new YouTube Originals documentary series that takes an immersive look at artificial intelligence and its potential to change the world.
Episode 2 features former NFL linebacker Tim Shaw, who is battling ALS, as he works with a team at Google to help restore his ability to communicate, testing the prototype of Project Euphonia for the first time. Through Project Euphonia, Google and ALS TDI partnered to develop technology that can help ALS patients with speech impairments, like Tim, communicate using their smartphone.
Below are some frequently asked questions about Project Euphonia and additional resources to learn more about the project and Google partnership.
What is Project Euphonia?
Project Euphonia is a collaboration between ALS TDI and Google to develop tools to help ALS patients with speech impairments communicate. Project Euphonia seeks to train Google’s standard speech recognition algorithms to understand speech by people with difficulty speaking caused by the weakening of the facial muscles due to ALS.
Project Euphonia was initiated thanks to data collected from people with ALS through ALS TDI’s Precision Medicine Program (PMP). In 2018, ALS TDI partnered with Google to leverage their expertise in artificial intelligence to analyze the “big data” collected from the Precision Medicine Program, making significant strides towards the development of unbiased, quantitative and sensitive measures of ALS disease progression.
What is ALS TDI’s involvement in Project Euphonia?
Project Euphonia relies in part on data from ALS TDI’s Precision Medicine Program (PMP). PMP is the most comprehensive and longest running translational research study in ALS. Through PMP, researchers at ALS TDI partner with people with ALS around the world to share and gather data on voice, movement, lifestyle, medical and family histories, genetics, biomarkers, and patient cell biology to better understand the disease.
Many participants in the PMP have recorded hundreds or thousands of specific phrases in order to help improve Google’s speech recognition algorithms – allowing mobile phones and computers to more reliably recognize and transcribe the phrases expressed. This could allow people with ALS to independently send text messages or to generate spoken commands using Google Home devices.
When will this technology be available for me?
We do not currently know when the voice-recognition technology developed through Project Euphonia will be available to the public. ALS TDI’s role in the project consists of providing data and collaborating with the Google research team. Google will make the decision as to when and how these technologies will be made available.
Can I contribute my voice data to Project Euphonia?
Data from ALD TDI’S Precision Medicine Program is an integral part of Project Euphonia. Anyone with ALS can add their data to PMP—regardless of where you live or what stage of the disease you are at If you’d like to participate, you can sign up here.
What are the next steps for Project Euphonia?
At the 31st International Symposium on MND/ALS in December 2020, ALS TDI and Google reported their findings on voice and accelerometer data as measures of ALS disease progression. We are in the process submitting a manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal.
Where can I find out more about the Project Euphonia voice technology featured in “The Age of A.I.”?
You can find more information about Project Euphonia on Google’s Artificial Intelligence blog.