KT develops AI-powered tech to restore Lou Gehrig patients’ voices

The technology replicates a person's vocal tone and manner of speech with a small sample of voice recordings and artificial intelligence.

Kim So-hyun

Kim So-hyun

The Korea Herald


A KT researcher works with an ALS patient to replicate his voice using artificial intelligence technology at KT’s research and development center in Seoul. (KT Corp.)

April 21, 2022

SEOUL – KT Corp. said Wednesday it has restored the voices of patients who are losing their voices due to Lou Gehrig’s disease using its personalized text-to-speech (P-TTS) technology.

Based on a small sample of a patient’s voice recordings, the technology replicates his or her vocal tone and manner of speech using artificial intelligence based on deep learning, the telecom company said.

When a patient types a message on KT’s Maeum Talk app, the app reads the message in his or her voice.

Often called Lou Gehrig’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive nervous system disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle control. Some ALS patients lose the ability to speak.

KT’s project with ALS patients began with the wife of a patient’s inquiry to KT’s customer center. She asked if she could use the company’s audiobook service, which reads stories in parents’ voices, so that her children could continue hearing their father’s voice.

Working together with a foundation for ALS patients, KT replicated voices for eight ALS patients and allowed them to keep using their voices through the Maeum Talk mobile app free of charge.

Since 2020, KT has also supported the deaf who have lost their voices with its AI technology.

Since 2003, the company has also helped about 20,000 children with hearing impairments each year to get cochlear implants, digital hearing aids and rehabilitation services.

“The aim of KT’s environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) is to practice digital engagement and bring change to customers’ lives by eliminating blind spots with our top-notch innovative technologies,” said Kim Moo-sung, KT’s chief of ESG management.

“Like the voice-finding project, we will continue to take the lead in resolving various social issues with the technologies and solutions that KT can be the best at.”

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