What is ModelTalker?
The ModelTalker System is a revolutionary speech synthesis software package developed by the Nemours Speech Research Laboratory and designed to benefit people who are losing or who have already lost their ability to speak. It allows people who use a Speech Generating Device (SGD) to communicate with a unique personal synthetic voice that is representative of their own voice.
7/22/22 — Staff changes at ModelTalker
After two years of wonderful assistance with our voice banking service, Matthew Buzzell will be moving on to begin his graduate studies. We are very grateful for all he has done to assist our voice banking clients and wish him every success with his studies! Our colleague Maxwell Hope will be joining Jason and Tim to carry on the voice banking service while we look to fill Matthew’s position in the lab. If you or someone you know might be interested in a position with our group (part of the Speech Research Laboratory at Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware), have a look at our job posting.
6/25/20 — Upcoming Service Interruptions
We have been notified by the University of Delaware, which provides internet access to our ModelTalker.org website that we will experience service interruptions on Monday June 29th from 10:00 PM to midnight and Wednesday, July 8th 10:00 PM – Thursday, July 9th 1:00 AM. All times are US Eastern Time (GMT – 5 or UTC – 4). We apologize in advance for any inconvenience.
3/17/20 — COVID-19
We sincerely hope that everyone is taking the best care possible to minimize their risk of contracting the novel Coronavirus now called COVID-19. If there is any glimmer of positive news related to COVID-19 it is that it is not a computer virus! Our servers remain up and our team is mostly able to continue work as usual although we are switching to telecommuting to minimize social contact as much as possible. You may find our response times a bit slower than usual as we work out all the wrinkles associated with remote connections to servers, but we are doing all that we can to carry on as usual despite the pandemic that is sweeping the globe.
3/11/20 — New Help Center
We are combining our FAQ and various other informational pages under a new searchable Help Center. We will be continuing to add and refine the Help Center over time and we hope it will make it much easier for users to locate information that will be of assistance in recording or to learn about voice banking. Please try it out and let us know if you have any problems or if you can think of additional information that should be added.
8/6/19 — Website update
7/27/19 — Online Recorder Changes
We are preparing to make some noticeable changes that we hope will simplify the workflow for our voice banking service and the online recorder interface. At the same time, we will also be opening the interface that will allow clients to audition and download donated voices. The changes we will be making are described in this page. The target date for us to go live with these changes is August 3, 2019.
7/5/19 — New Demo Voices
Are you curious what your voice might sound like if you only recorded 400 sentences versus 1600 or more sentences? What are the differences between our normal unit selection voices and the new hybrid DNN voices? This is now illustrated on our Demo page using different versions of our Tom voice. (Note: ‘Tom’ is a professional voice artist who recorded our standard sentences in our lab — These are ‘best case’ examples).
7/1/19 — Donated Voices (Coming soon)
We will soon be adding a new feature to allow registered clients to review and select from our growing list of donated voices. While this feature is intended primarily for AAC users who are unable to record their own personal voice, even clients who have made a personal voice will be able to add selected donor voices to their “My Voices” list of voices. Any voice in a client’s My Voices list can be downloaded directly from our site to a Windows or Mac computer or set as the default voice for installation on iOS (Predictable) or Android. We will eventually be adding a small charge for most donated voices, however the charge will be substantially less than for personal voices since the same donated voice may be used by multiple clients.
4/5/19 — New Voice Options
Since last summer, we have been testing–and occasionally providing voice bankers with–hybrid Deep Neural Network (hDNN) voices that are based on new machine learning algorithms and parametric speech synthesis, but are compatible with all existing versions of our TTS system. We have now begun routinely providing these hDNN voices as an option for all voice bankers when auditioning their voices. While hDNN voices can sound more machine-like in voice quality, they nonetheless tend to flow more naturally, and are often more intelligible. The hDNN voices are especially promising for voice bankers who struggle with recording or who are unable to complete a full 1600- or 3200-sentence inventory. Don’t be alarmed if the first voice you hear in auditioning is now an hDNN voice; the standard voices will be there too and available for you to choose as your preferred voice!
11/21/18 — Site maintenance downtime
We must do some maintenance to the ModelTalker website that will involve a more extended amount of downtime than usual. We anticipate the site being unavailable for recording or voice downloads from the evening of 11/29/18 until late on 11/30/18 or early on 12/1/18. We apologize in advance for the inconvenience!
8/25/18 — New Reusable Custom Form!
We have updated the Custom Inventory form so it is possible to use and reuse the form as often as needed. It is no longer necessary to add everything at once! Now you can add new words and phrases/messages as you think of them and they will be appended to the end of your current inventory.
6/1/18 — Problems with Chrome…UPDATE
For users who are seeing an error that says:
Error capturing audio: message=null name=OverconstrainedError constraintName=undefined.
We have identified the cause of the problem–a change that Google introduced in a recent version of Chrome–and we are working on a fix. Until we have completed testing the fix, there is a work-around you can use:
- Login to https://modeltalker.org/vrec, but do not fill in the Settings dialog
- Click the movie camera icon in the right side of the chrome address bar. That will bring up a popup box to allow Microphone controls.
- Click the Manage button in the bottom left of the popup
- At the top of the resulting Chrome Settings page click the microphone selector, and choose the entry that says: “Default <your_microphone_name>” Where <your_microphone_name> is whatever the name of your microphone is such as “Sennheiser PC 36 USB Headset” possibly followed by some numbers in parentheses.
- Close the Chrome Settings page, log out of the online recorded, and log back in again
Thereafter, it should be possible for you to measure the silence and proceed with recording.
Very sorry for the inconvenience!!
3/13/18 — Inactive Voice Inventories
Some voice bankers start recording their full inventory, but then seem to discontinue recording. Because recordings take up space on our server that other users may need, we will be instituting a policy of backing off inventories from our server that have been inactive for a long time. We will be introducing this process gradually over the next several weeks. DON’T WORRY!! We will not delete anyone’s recordings. Inactive inventories will just be moved to a safe location and can be restored at any time.
We understand that it is easy to become engaged with other more immediate needs and not have an opportunity to return to complete voice banking for an extended period of time. If you record even a little bit every few months, your inventory will be considered active and remain on the live site. If you happen to be away long enough (at least half a year) that your recordings seem to have disappeared, just let us know and we will be able to restore them quickly.
We also understand that some people find the task too demanding to complete all the sentences we recommend. If you are in this category, please do let us know. We are sometimes able to build usable voices from substantially fewer than 1600 sentences and would be happy to discuss this possibility with you.
1/31/18 — Team Gleason Supports ModelTalker Voice Banking!
Starting February 1, 2018, if you do not have other support, Team Gleason has generously offered to provide support for ModelTalker voice bankers who are US citizens with a confirmed diagnosis of ALS. Persons with ALS who complete the Team Gleason application on our website and are approved by Team Gleason will be able to download their completed ModelTalker voices for free. Visit the Team Gleason announcement for a custom link to register and request support from Team Gleason.
1/21/18 — Online Recorder Downtime Completed
Our service is completed and the website should now be fully functional once again. We have replaced the previous version of the online recorder with a new updated version that has many new features and a somewhat different look and feel. See our Online Recorder Overview for a summary of the changes we have introduced.
We tested the new recorder internally before releasing the changes, but as with any new complex software, there may be some problems we are not presently aware of. Please let us know if you experience any problems with the new interface.
12/21/17 — Happy Solstice! New features coming soon!
Whether your day is short or long, this is just a heads-up so you will not be surprised by some changes we will introduce in the near future. We have been working on some improvements to the online voice recorder to make it easier for you to review sentences that have already been recorded and keep track of which ones you might want to try to improve. Soon (possibly as early as next week) we will update the online recorder to show you a list of all the sentences you have recorded in a table below the recorder controls. You will be able to sort the list of sentences in a variety of ways and search for sentences containing specific content. There will be indicators for how optimal the recording is for amplitude, speaking rate, and pronunciation. And you will be able to listen to your recording, or select the sentence to rerecord.
12/8/17 — changes complete
We have completed making changes to the registration process. We have added a new registration category of “proxy” for people registering to provide a voice for a specific individual and simplified the registration process. Please let us know if you encounter any problems.
12/6/17 – Brief system downtimes
Our server team has warned us that there may be a period of 30 – 60 minutes tomorrow morning starting at around 8am EST (1pm GMT) where some services (e.g., downloads of Windows voice installers) are unavailable. If you are unable to download a windows voice, please try again later.
Additionally, we plan to have the ModelTalker.org website inactive for about two hours starting at 9pm US Eastern Standard time (2am, 12/9/17 GMT). The downtime will allow us to make a few changes to the website and registration process. Please avoid attempting to login during that time period.
Our apology for any inconvenience!
6/30/17 – Terms of Service Change Effective 07/01/17 12:01 AM EST
New registrations beginning Saturday 12:01 AM 07/01/17 US Eastern Daylight Time (5:01 am London; 14:01 pm Sydney; 16:01 pm Christchurch) for voice banking clients who want to create and download a personalized voice there will be a $100.00 USD fee to enable the download of completed voices. There will be no change for users who have registered prior to that time. At present, we are continuing the “no charge” policy for voice donors and for clinicians and those registering to learn about the technology so they can assist others. See our Fee Policy FAQ for more details.
6/1/2017 – Changes coming to our service!
For many years, we have provided ModelTalker voices to persons with communication needs for free as an adjunct to our research program. However, as demand for voice banking has grown over the last few years, it is no longer practical for us to meet the increased demand without offsetting staff costs. Consequently, for people registering and beginning the voice banking process after July 1, 2017, we will be charging $100 USD for users to enable download of completed voices.
If you are currently in the process of banking your voice, you will not be charged. Once we begin charging, the registration, recording, and auditioning process will continue exactly as they are now. However, after auditioning your voice, if you are pleased with the result, you will be charged to unlock the download capability. Once downloads are unlocked, there will be no restrictions on the number of downloads for different platforms and you will be eligible for voice upgrades if technology improvements warrant and if we have copies of your original speech recordings.
We will be updating our Fee Policy FAQ and other pages with more information about this change in the coming days, but wanted to be sure the word gets out as quickly as possible. Crucially, we are in discussion with a number of charitable organizations to determine what assistance they may be able to provide to users for whom this charge will be a hardship and will post more information about those opportunities as it becomes available.
5/2/2017 – MTVR update
We have posted a minor version update to the Windows MTVR program to correct several issues:
- Changed a prompt that started with “Look like she…” to the more grammatical “Looks like she…”
- Fixed a bug that sometimes created files with names like *.mp3.wav, which could then interfere with prompt playback.
- Replaced some old references to “modeltalker.com” with references to “modeltalker.org”
- Added Microsoft code signing to MTVR and its components so users will no longer receive a warning that the program is from an untrusted source. The developer will be listed as AgoraNet, Inc., which is the company that maintains our website and software.
Clinics using MTVR should update their software when convenient. Current personal or one-time users of MTVR do not need to update to this version unless they are experiencing problems that could be related to one of these issues.
4/6/2017 – Voice Auditioning
We are introducing a new feature that will allow users to have more say in the process of constructing their synthetic voice. In our lab, we create multiple versions of each user’s voice and then test them to see which one seems best. Our final choice becomes the voice we return to the user. We have now set up a process where users can audition the multiple versions of their voice and help us decide which version sounds best to them. See Voices > Auditioning for more information.
1/19/2017 – Automating Custom Inventories!
Users often ask if they can send us some names and/or phrases to record as part of the voice banking process. It is now possible to create your own custom inventory to record along with our standard inventories for voice banking. At any time while recording your full voice banking inventory, you can select Session > Custom Inventory. This will allow you to enter some names and phrases that you especially want your voice to be able to pronounce correctly. Custom sentences generated from the words and phrases you enter will automatically be added to the end of your active inventory, ready for you to record before we build your voice.