Researchers at the Hollins Communications Research Institute have created an iPhone app that helps treat speech impediment disorders. As a former stutterer – I wasn’t that bad but it was hard to stop – this is actually very cool.
Stuttering treatment usually requires a feedback loop to retrain the brain. This application listens to your voice in the field and offers immediate feedback, a process that usually depended on a desktop PC and special software used in an office. Now, however, stutterers can perform exercises and tests while they’re shopping, chatting, or at a restaurant. The software also records the samples taken in the field for later analysis at the research facility.
The iPhone device was programmed at HCRI with a sophisticated voice monitoring system that evaluates and scores speech behaviors taught during stuttering therapy. When clients use the device during training in outside situations, such as in a shopping mall, restaurant or business setting, fluency measurements for each utterance are displayed on the iPhone screen. Having this data immediately available to stuttering therapy program participants makes speech practice more effective and helps improve the speed with which fluency results are achieved.
In addition, the iPhone records every speech sample in an onboard file for later transmission to HCRI. This information enables the institute’s therapists to provide more detailed and precise training to clients, as they learn to apply new speech capabilities in everyday situations.
The application will be used at the HCRI and is in research stages right now. Don’t expect to pick it up at the App Store.