Assistive Technologies

FastSpeech: Fast, Robust and Controllable Text to Speech

Neural Information Processing Systems

Neural network based end-to-end text to speech (TTS) has significantly improved the quality of synthesized speech. Prominent methods (e.g., Tacotron 2) usually first generate mel-spectrogram from text, and then synthesize speech from the mel-spectrogram using vocoder such as WaveNet. Compared with traditional concatenative and statistical parametric approaches, neural network based end-to-end models suffer from slow inference speed, and the synthesized speech is usually not robust (i.e., some words are skipped or repeated) and lack of controllability (voice speed or prosody control). In this work, we propose a novel feed-forward network based on Transformer to generate mel-spectrogram in parallel for TTS. Specifically, we extract attention alignments from an encoder-decoder based teacher model for phoneme duration prediction, which is used by a length regulator to expand the source phoneme sequence to match the length of the target mel-spectrogram sequence for parallel mel-spectrogram generation.

Deep Voice 2: Multi-Speaker Neural Text-to-Speech

Neural Information Processing Systems

We introduce a technique for augmenting neural text-to-speech (TTS) with low-dimensional trainable speaker embeddings to generate different voices from a single model. As a starting point, we show improvements over the two state-of-the-art approaches for single-speaker neural TTS: Deep Voice 1 and Tacotron. We introduce Deep Voice 2, which is based on a similar pipeline with Deep Voice 1, but constructed with higher performance building blocks and demonstrates a significant audio quality improvement over Deep Voice 1. We improve Tacotron by introducing a post-processing neural vocoder, and demonstrate a significant audio quality improvement. We then demonstrate our technique for multi-speaker speech synthesis for both Deep Voice 2 and Tacotron on two multi-speaker TTS datasets.

Army veteran says his prosthetic legs were repossessed after VA refused to pay for them

FOX News

Fox News Flash top headlines for Jan. 10 are here. Check out what's clicking on A Mississippi Army veteran who served in both Vietnam and Iraq says his prosthetic legs were repossessed and returned in an unusable state -- because the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) refused to pay for them. Jerry Holliman, 69, told the Clarion-Ledger newspaper that prosthetics vender Hanger repossessed his artificial limbs two days before Christmas. Although he was encouraged to use Medicare to find replacement prosthetic legs, Holliman said he wanted the VA to pay for them.

Exoskeleton debuted by Delta and Sarcos Robotics makes lifting an airplane tire feel like 20 POUNDS

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Delta may be known for its airplanes, but a new and surprisingly dexterous exoskeleton may be their next product to take off. The suit, called the Guardian XO, is a relatively small full-body exoskeleton that the company envisions will be used for heavy duty construction and commercial applications that requires brute strength. In a demonstration of the all-electric suit at CES in Las Vegas - the first ever public demo of the device - Delta and its partner Sarcos Robotics showed off the exoskeleton's capabilities. The demonstrator - a moderately sized young man by the name of Ben - strapped himself into the suit in just a couple minutes and started the first trial. 'It's a pretty comfortable machine, I can move around as if I wasn't wearing this,' said Ben who told the audience that he had only been training with the suit for about four months.

Assistive Technology to Help Children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Succeed Academically - The Edvocate


Helping children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to focus in the classroom can be a major challenge. Educators might find themselves constantly prompting and redirecting students to perform routine tasks. It can be frustrating for the student and their classmates when their need to move around the classroom disrupts the learning experience. Gains in assistive technology could help to promote better learning for students who struggle with ADHD. Teachers who are growing weary of the constant motion and redirection required for students with ADHD might want to investigate some of these breakthroughs.

Elderly people in Japan 'are wearing mechanical exoskeletons to wok into 70s'

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Japan's ageing generation is turning to robotic exoskeletons to help them work well into old age, reports claim. The Asian nation has one of the oldest populations in the world, with 28 per cent of natives over the age of 65. As the government considers raising retirement age to 70 in order to cope, more would-be pensioners are strapping on £1,000 exoskeletons to boost strength and stamina to extend their working life. Like most other industrial-focused exosuits it is worn like a backpack but it weighs less than ten pounds and can help lift up to 55lbs (25kg). Exoskeletons are being trialled in warehouses and other labour-intensive jobs to prevent injuries to staff, but have also shown promise in aiding the disabled and elderly.

People in Japan are wearing exoskeletons to keep working as they age

New Scientist

Older people in Japan are strapping on exoskeletons to help meet the physical demands of their jobs and remain in the workforce for longer. Japan's population is rapidly ageing, with a record 28 per cent of people aged 65 or older. This has led to a shortage of workers, particularly in manual labour industries like construction, manufacturing and farming.

Paralysed man moves all four limbs using groundbreaking exoskeleton that reads his mind


A man has been able to move all four of his paralysed limbs using a groundbreaking mind-controlled exoskeleton, scientists have said. The tetraplegic 30-year-old, known only as Thibault, said his first steps in the robotic suit felt like being "the first man on the Moon". The system, which works by recording and decoding brain signals, was trialled in a two-year study by French researchers at biomedical research centre Clinatec and the University of Grenoble. Scientists conceded the suit was an experimental treatment far from clinical application but said it had the potential to improve patients' quality of life and autonomy. Wearing the robotic limbs, Thibault was able to walk and move his arms using a ceiling-mounted harness for balance.

Prosthetic legs of California high school wrestling captain stolen from gym

FOX News

Fox News Flash top headlines for Nov. 24 are here. Check out what's clicking on The prosthetic legs of a double amputee and soon-to-be high school wrestling captain were stolen from a gym closet in California last week, putting his dreams of winning a state championship or even wrestling this season in doubt. Brett Winters, a senior at Pacific High School in San Bernardino, California, was born without tibia bones in his legs. As a baby, his mother was told by doctors that Winters could either spend life in a wheelchair or amputate his legs.

Helping the Disabled Live an Active Life with Robots & Exoskeletons Work in Japan for engineers


In the House of Councillors election of July 2019 two new Diet members were elected who each have severe physical disabilities. One is an Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) patient and the other has Cerebral Palsy. Both are barely able to move their bodies and require large electric wheelchairs to get about. The assistance of a carer is also necessary. In particular, the ALS patient is dependent on an artificial respirator and is even unable to speak.