For many patients with ALS, the goal is to sound like themselves -- not Stephen Hawking

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking died Wednesday, but his distinctive computerized voice lives on.

Thousands of people who have lost the ability to speak use the exact same computerized voice Hawking did.

Now, improvements in speech synthesis technology are helping patients with ALS and other diseases speak with voices that sound more like themselves.

About a year after Sandy Sjogren of Sun City was diagnosed with a fast-moving form of ALS, she heard about Modeltalker. Using the software and a headset microphone at home, she recorded herself saying about 1,600 sentences and phrases. She's glad she did.

"When people hear my voice they say it sounds just like me a year ago," Sjogren said through a text-to-speech device. She can no longer speak.

But what if Sjogren didn't record herself in time?

A company called VocaliD can begin to recreate voices that have already been lost by analyzing the sounds a person can make and blending them with recorded voices from a database.

The result is a personalized blend that's designed to be close to the person's natural voice.

The project relies on tens of thousands of donated voices. To donate your voice, click here.

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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