ATU245 – Speechvive for Parkinsons Artificial Intelligence learns to Chit Chat DropVox

July 24, 2019

first_imgPodcast: Play in new window | DownloadYour weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.Show Notes:Jessica Huber, PhD, Chief Technology Officer of Speechvive | www.speechvive.comATCoalition News – Free Webinars Make AI More Human, Teach It to Chitchat Wheelchair Proves Doubters Wrong Dropvox |——————————Listen 24/7 at www.AssistiveTechnologyRadio.comIf you have an AT question, leave us a voice mail at: 317-721-7124 or email [email protected] out our web site: https://www.eastersealstech.comFollow us on Twitter: @INDATAprojectLike us on Facebook:——-transcript follows ——JESSICA HUBER: Hi, this is Jessica Huber, and I’m the chief technology officer of Speechvive Inc., and this is your Assistance Technology Update.WADE WINGLER: Hi, this is Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals crossroads in Indiana with your Assistive Technology Update, a weekly dose of information that keeps you up-to-date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.Welcome to episode number 245 of Assistive Technology Update. It’s scheduled to be released on February 5 of 2016.Today I’m excited to have Doctor Jessica Huber from Purdue University who is the chief technology officer of Speechvive. They’ve got an interesting product that helps people who have Parkinson’s speak a little more loudly, a little more clearly.Where the whole long list of 380 webinars that we learned about from the AT coalition; a story about chitchat and how it can make artificial intelligence a little more human; also a fascinating story about a woman who uses a wheelchair underwater and some of the technical details of how they make that happened; also our friend Scott Debord from AppleVis does a review of an app called Dropvox.We hope you’ll check out our website at, call our listener line at 317-721-7124, or shoot us a note on Twitter at INDATA Project.***If you are listening to this podcast, I’m pretty sure you are interested in the information about assistive technology. I got an e-newsletter from our friends over at the accessible technology coalition that lists more than a dozen free webinars coming up here in the month of February 2016. Here are just a few to look at. On February 8 at 11 AM Pacific, there will be one on making media accessible by adding captions and audio descriptions; February 10, trends in web accessibility; February 17, an update on cognitive aids for people with brain injuries; February 24, the ADA, sensory disabilities, and assistive technology: core technologies for nonvisual access.A few that are specific to educators in the K-12 environment on February 10, using quite to improve AT services; February 16, accessibility on mobile devices, accessibility features and iOS nine and android; and on February 18, a child centered AT plan. Lots of good stuff. The webinars are hosted by different organizations. This link that I’m going to send you to in the show notes will be the ATC’s listing of all these webinars. Some of them require pre-registration. Most of them are about one hour long, but there is lot more details. Check our show notes for these free webinars.***I am looking at an article over at Wired magazine by Clive Thompson. The headline reads, “To make AI more human, teach it to chitchat.” It’s an interesting article. There is a group over at Microsoft who is working on a chat bot named XiaoIce. They have taught this thing to chitchat. In fact they were talking about a Korean movie star and making chitchat about romantic comedies. The point is that human beings need to have that sort of water cooler chitchat experience. It’s artificial intelligence is going to take off and be successful, this chitchat phenomenon is going to be required. In fact, Harry Shum, who is the head of Microsoft technology and research, says that chitchat is a basic human need. In fact, some other researchers spent some time in the second life environment watching people interact with a robot. They found that phatic communication, this chitchat communication, was the second most common part of conversation right after facts. I think that points to a human need that they are talking about in this article. I think about my instructions around the office. Although we are a very technology-based group, you sort of warm-up conversations were talking about the weather or family or pop-culture or those kinds of things. I’m going to pop a link in the show notes over to this wired magazine article, and you can read in more detail about what they’re doing with creating chitchat as part of these artificial intelligence interfaces. Check our show notes.***SPEAKER: It started as a visual artwork that was about placing the wheelchair in the most unexpected environments that I could think about. I started talking to engineers, and they were so convinced it wouldn’t work.SPEAKER: The key to scuba diving is being neutrally buoyant. To do that, you need to balance the force of gravity pulling you down and the force of buoyancy pulling you up. In Sue’s case, she has a wheelchair which is pulling her down.WADE WINGLER: What you’re hearing there is a clip from a fascinating video that I found. I was looking at some stuff that came from our friends over at RESNA. This is a video that is found on the MSN website. I saw a Ted talk not all that long ago by a woman named Sue Austen who did an amazing talk about what it’s like to be a wheelchair user. The thing that is interesting about this video is that it talks about the technical aspects of how they made it float and how they made the proportion work and how they allowed her to steer this wheelchair that she uses underwater as a scuba diver to do things like explore coral reefs and even do back flips and loop to loop movements from her wheelchair. I’m going to pop a link in the show notes. You can watch this video, about two minutes long. It gets into the details and shows lots of clips of Sue using the wheelchair underwater as a scuba diver in a cool way. Check our show notes. It’ll blow your mind.***Each week, one of our partners tells us what’s happening in the ever-changing world of apps, so here’s an App Worth Mentioning.SCOTT DAVERT: From, I’m Scott Davert with this week’s app Worth Mentioning. Today I’m talking about an app called Dropvox. Dropvox is an app that allows you to make recordings on an iDevice. Once you have stopped those recordings, they will automatically upload as MP3 files to Dropbox. Hence the similar name in the app. This app is $1.99 in the US app store and has some pretty unique features. I was actually working with a student a while back who was blind. He had the ability to use his iOS device with a braille display and also with an on-screen keyboard. But what he found was that, when he wanted to take down phone numbers really quickly, he didn’t really have an easy way to do that. If you wanted to do the on-screen keyboard, he would have to poke around the screen a little bit; if you wanted to use dictation, that would always work because the environment would be allowed, Siri may not interpret whatever he is saying correctly. So he wanted a quick and easy way to make audio recordings and have them available on his computer. We set him up with Dropvox.What you can do is you can set it up so that the second you launch the app, it will begin recording. The second you leave the app, it will stop recording and upload to Dropbox. Then you’ll have it available on any device you want. Say you are in a conference and you want to take down a quick phone number, or if you just want to start recording at a very specific time, for example you are a student and you’re in class, you can quickly set it up so that all you have to do is launch the app, close the app when you’re done, and the recording will then automatically post to Dropbox.You can also have several recordings pending that will be sent to Dropbox. I’ve actually done this with three recordings in the second I was within range and relaunched Dropvox. All three of them posted fine. It’s a really reliable app and is one that I recommend several times over the years. I am bringing it up now because it reentered my memory because I had to use it again. If you would like more information on Dropvox from a voice over user perspective or Dropbox the service, the iOS version, from a voice over user perspective, I encourage you to check out where you will find a lot more information on Mac computers, iDevices, Apple TV, and anything associated with those devices, whether that be apps, accessories, or anything else. With this week’s App Worth Mentioning, I’m Scott Davert.***WADE WINGLER: We all know that communication is important. In fact, if you’re listening to this podcast right now, you are living proof that being able to understand the spoken word is critical for education and socialization and all kinds of stuff. In fact, that’s the kind of people we are and how we live. When we think about Parkinson’s, we probably have images that have to do with the physicality of Parkinson’s and how people look and move and perhaps talk when they have a diagnosis like that. I’m excited today to have Doctor Jessica Huber who is the chief technology officer at Speechvive. She’s going to talk with us about a fascinating project and product and research that she has been working on for a wild.First of all, Doctor Huber, thank you so much for being on our show.JESSICA HUBER: I’m glad to be here. Things were having me.WADE WINGLER: Jessica, tell me a little bit about yourself and how you ended up on our show today as the chief technology officer of Speechvive. How did you get interested?JESSICA HUBER: I’m a speech pathologist by training, so I’ve always been interested in ways to help people communicate more effectively. Probably some of my first interests in the area of speech pathology were alternative or augmentative communication, so devices or techniques that you can use to help people who either can’t communicate verbally or need assistance with communicative verbally, because as we know comparable communication is such a huge important part of interacting in everyday life with our families and our friends. When I coupled my interest clinically with some research I’ve been doing — I was first trained to be a speech physiology researcher, so I looked at how the body works for speech. I thought about people with Parkinson’s disease, some of the problems they have both physically and from a communication perspective, and started looking at how people with Parkinson’s disease communicate when it’s kind of falling apart from the perspective of the physical side. I got to know these people and their families, and I just wanted to find a way to help them. Through my first funded research study, I was thinking about the results that I had and I noticed how much better they did. I had a part of that study where I played some noise while they talked. They really did better physically, perceptually, they sounded better, they were easier to understand. They even had more normal physical movements and support for speech when they were talking over noise. So I was kind of thinking it would be really great if they were talking in noise, but they were the only ones who could hear it. Everyone else heard them in the natural environment. That was the idea that led to the device that we now call the Speechvive device.WADE WINGLER: So just with the amount of information, I’ve got a ton of questions. I’m going to start with sort of the simple one. The name of the device, Speechvive. Tell me a little bit about the name. Where did that come from?JESSICA HUBER: Actually the person who is the CEO of the company, his background is in marketing. That was his name. He brought that name to me. I really liked it because it made me think that it was reviving your speech. That’s what I really gravitated towards that name. We did go through and discard many other names. That one just kind of stuck.WADE WINGLER: I like it. The marketing guy in me likes that too. Jessica, as I was looking at your website, I read a little bit about the Lombard affect and a little bit about some of the challenges that you’re trying to overcome with Speechvive. Can you talk to me little bit about that? What is the experience like for someone who has Parkinson’s, and how does the Lombard affect come into play when you are talking about clearer and easier to understand speech?JESSICA HUBER: I always have people think, if they know someone with Parkinson’s disease or they have it themselves, what does it sound like when you talk to someone with Parkinson’s disease? The big thing people and also that people with Parkinson’s disease seem to talk quieter, so it’s harder to hear their speech. They talk more quickly, so it’s almost like the sound blur together at times so it can be really hard to pick up words and sentences from their speech and understand what they are saying. They also sometimes will have what we might call a dysfluency or repetition in their speech. A lot of times their speech sounds aren’t quite as crisp as typical speakers. So they will be a little more slurred or a little mushy. But the Lombard affect does is, this is a reflex we all have naturally and without thinking about it, talk louder, talk more clearly, and slow our rate when we are talking in noise. It’s really great as a natural queue for people with Parkinson’s. What we do when we talk in noise is what we need them to do differently. It’s kind of a neat technique for people with Parkinson’s. The reason I really like it is that when people have Parkinson’s disease fully, over time, there will be a change to their thinking skills, their ability to pay attention, their own speech and monitor it while they’re communicating. That is hard for everyone to do, but it gets harder as their cognition changes. The Lombard affect is just a natural reflex. You don’t have to remember to do it. No one has been in a restaurant talking to someone and has had to remember to talk louder. You just do these things naturally.WADE WINGLER: That fascinates me because my first gut instinct would be that it would wear off after a while. People would kind of get used to that sound and they would stop responding to it. What you’re telling me is that it gets better.JESSICA HUBER: Yes. That was my gut instinct at first too. I was glad when some of the pilot data we did showed that that didn’t happen. My best explanation for that is that this is an effect we have our whole lives. Even today, if you go out to dinner tonight, if it’s loud in the restaurant, he will talk louder. It’s not like as you talk in more restaurant you stop doing this. I think the other thing is that the device only plays the noise when the person is talking, so it goes off when they are not talking. It’s not a constant noise in the background. It’s more intermittent which might be part of the reason people don’t adapt to it.WADE WINGLER: Tell me a little bit about the mechanics of the device. I got a clip here where I can play some of the babble in the background whenever you say it is appropriate to do that. Tell me a little bit about it. What is it like from the experience of a person with Parkinson’s?JESSICA HUBER: It’s hard for me to say what their experience is like, but I can tell you mine. What happens is you put the device on your ear and fit it, or the speech pathologist who works with the patient will fit it to the person. There are some settings we use that make sure the device knows when that person is talking, knows the difference between chewing and throat clearing and talking in that person. Then we would set it to be loud enough for them that it actually elicits the Lombard affect, makes them talk louder. And then what they would experience is that as they talk, they hear this noise, which you can go ahead and play.WADE WINGLER: Here we go.[Babbling speech]JESSICA HUBER: It sounds a lot like you are in a restaurant and a lot of people are talking. You can’t tell what anyone is exactly saying around you, but you can hear that there are lots of people talking. That noise is only on while the person talks. Now, when I wear the device – which I am the first guinea pig in all studies I do — the noise can sometimes be irritating to me. But in general, the patients who wear it don’t complain of that. We’ve had two patients in all the patients that I have sits and the patients the clinicians who – a lot of times, the speech pathologist who works with the Speechvive but our company know how it’s going and if someone likes or dislikes something. We’ve heard from two speech pathologists that they each had one patient who didn’t like the noise. And I can understand that. But in general, I think because it’s on so quickly and then off again, it’s not as annoying as it is when you hear it by itself like that.WADE WINGLER: That makes sense. First of all, it’s fascinating and I think it’s an interesting response you’re getting. Are there people other than people who have Parkinson’s who might benefit from this, or other people with Parkinson’s where this isn’t a good option for them?JESSICA HUBER: Yes, to both. Starting with the people with Parkinson’s, that is really my area that I know the most about. This device is effective in about 90 percent of patients. I have people who just didn’t respond to this. I’m not quite sure what makes someone a responder or non-responder, but there are people for whom it just doesn’t work. There are also people who wear hearing aids in both years. We don’t have an ear to put the device in, so they are not candidates. Always with treatment, we want to pick from a whole slew of choices because no one treatment is going to work for everyone. As far as other disorders where this might be helpful, that’s hard to say because I haven’t studied anyone else. I know there are some speech pathologists trying it with patients who have had brainstem strokes or some traumatic brain injuries, and we are waiting to see how those do. Some have done quite well. Some are too new to know. Some actually not a good fit for. I think we need a much bigger sample. The other people who I’m interested in looking at our just typical older adults who don’t have a disorder but who have voice changes that are typical with aging where the voice gets quiet and whispery. I think that this has a good essential to improve communication and those people as well. It’s really just not proven right now.WADE WINGLER: I’m sure that somebody listening to the show right now is going to say I need to know more about this because it resonates with them. Some practical questions. What does the device cost? How do you get one? And what is the role of a speech pathologist or other professionals in the process?JESSICA HUBER: The best place to get information about the devices the Speechvive website, which is You can learn more there. You can see a list of speech pathologists who are trained to set the device and provide the device. The device costs $2,495. The patient would order it from our website. There is a phone number to call to order the device. That device is then sent to their coordinating speech pathologist, the person who they work with who also has to be trained to use the device. The speech pathologist receives the device, since for the person. There will be some follow-up sessions with the person to make sure that we are holding the settings as that person is using the device. But it’s not a lot of follow-up. It’s not like a behavioral therapy where you have to go 20 times or something like that. The devices available through payment plans and that works better than paying for it. We are working with some speech pathologists to get some insurance reimbursement case studies through. You have to go through some cases before this gets approved by insurance. It is covered in full at the Veterans Administration for veterans, and we’ve had some success with the Indiana Disability Fund for people who need this device to go back to work.WADE WINGLER: Excellent. Jessica, what’s in your crystal ball when it comes to Speechvive? What kinds of things are on the horizon in terms of future development or refinements? What is on the horizon?JESSICA HUBER: We just got some great news that it looks like our small business grant from the National Institutes of Health was funded to develop a telemedicine application for Speechvive so that people who live 500 miles from the closest trained speech pathologists, that speech pathologist can see you via the Internet to set your device, get you going with the device, and monitor your follow up from there. That’s the big thing we are working on right now, improving our ability to treat and help more people. In particular, in places like Indiana and other more rural states, sometimes being 500 miles from the closest trained speech pathologist is common. We want to make sure good healthcare options are accessible to all patients.WADE WINGLER: We’ve got about one minute left in the interview. Tell me a story. Tell me a story about someone whose life has been impacted by Speechvive.JESSICA HUBER: My favorite story is I had a patient who was in the study we did at Purdue. When she came to me, she was really upset because she was very gregarious and likes to talk to people copy people were talking over her. They wouldn’t listen to her. They would interrupt her as if she wasn’t talking. She got the Speechvive and we worked with her. Her voice got much stronger. Her speech got a lot clearer. She said to me at the end that she felt more empowered to tell people, hey, I’m talking, listen to me. She felt like she could declare her role in the conversation that was going around her. I’ve had patients tell me it was easier to get people’s attention to get a turning conversation. Probably the most telling was when we ran the studies, you could keep the device at the end if you wanted to, or we could take it back and refurbish it and use it with another person. We always had to make as many devices as we had purchased because most people, and the percent, kept the device at the end of the study. They must have found value in it if they wanted to take it home after the study.WADE WINGLER: That’s great. Doctor Jessica Huber is a professor at Purdue University and the chief technology officer of Speechvive. She’s been our guest today to talk about that product. Jessica, thank you so much for being on our show today.JESSICA HUBER: Thanks for having me.WADE WINGLER: Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on Assistive Technology Update? Call our listener line at 317-721-7124. Looking for show notes from today’s show? Head on over to Shoot us a note on Twitter @INDATAProject, or check us out on Facebook. That was your Assistance Technology Update. I’m Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana.Share this…TwitterFacebookPinterestLinkedInEmailPrint RelatedATU228 – iOS 9 and Its Impact on People with Disabilities | Luis Perez | Free AT Webinars, Insulin and Blood Sugar Monitoring on Your Smart Phone, Robots and AutismOctober 9, 2015In “Assistive Technology Update”ATU033: Assistive Technology Act/Rehab Services Administration (Rob Groenendaal) GW Skype, Wheelchair users who are blind or visually impaired, SoundPod, Choosing apps, Sortable, Free ADA Webinar, CSUN & ATIAJanuary 13, 2012In “Assistive Technology Update”ATU188 – Wheel Life & The Bally Foundation, Look at Me app for Autism, Applevis’ Golden Apple Awards, Birdhouse for AutismJanuary 2, 2015In “Assistive Technology Update”last_img

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