Google has begun beta testing an app designed to help those with speech impairments use Google Assistant.
The company announced the program is now accepting volunteers for Project Relate to contribute towards multi-year research with the goal of improving Google’s speech recognition algorithms. Google ultimately wants to make sure Assistant and the rest of its voice-based features are fully capable and inclusive of people with neurological conditions or speech impairments.
“Project Relate is a continuation of years of research from both Google’s Speech and Research teams, made possible by over a million speech samples recorded by participants of our research effort,” Google said in a blog post.
Project Relate is looking for English speakers in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, for now. Those chosen for the beta will get to download the app but will then need to record 500 phrases for the AI to use to learn how they speak. The recording will take up to an hour and a half, according to Google. Once set up, the Relate app should be able to carry out some common voice assistant tasks regardless of speech impairments.
The app is currently in beta but what it can do is recognize speech input from people who have trouble speaking clearly. Users then have the option of converting that voice input into text that they can then use to paste into messages or emails, or have it repeated out loud in a synthesized voice.
“I’m used to the look on people’s faces when they can’t understand what I’ve said,” Aubrie Lee, a brand manager at Google whose speech is affected by muscular dystrophy, said. “Project Relate can make the difference between a look of confusion and a friendly laugh of recognition.”