SpeakUnique, The Voicebank Research Project

About the project

When speech becomes impaired due to MND, people may come to rely on Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCA). However, many people complain that the generic synthetic voices in these devices can’t reflect their identity. The ultimate ambition of this research project was for people to be able to use communication aids that speak for them in their own voice and the project suceeded in meeting that ambition. A spin-out company launched in Spring 2020, to offer the SpeakUnique product to people worldwide who have lost, or are at risk of losing their voice, due to illness. 

The technology developed through this project enables personalised synthetic voices to be created using only small amounts of speech recording, rather than the multiple hours required by previous methods. This is possible through the use of accent matched donor voices, in addition to a patients’ own. Furthermore, this unique bank of donor voices also gives us the ability to ‘repair’ voices that are already mild-moderately impaired at the time of recording.

See www.speakunique.co.uk for more information.


Euan MacDonald Centre for MND Research, Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic, Medical Research Council, Motor Neurone Disease Association, Scottish Government


Veaux C, Yamagishi, J, King, S
Towards Personalized Synthetic Voices for Individuals with Vocal Disabilities: Voice Banking and Reconstruction
4th Workshop on Speech and Language Processing for Assistive Technologies. 2013: 107-111

Primary location


Principal Investigator

Other people involved

Professor Siddharthan Chandran, Principal Investigator

Professor Simon King, Principal Investigator

Dr Junichi Yamagishi, Principal Investigator

Shuna Colville, Clinical Project Manager

Dr Wei Guo, Software Developer

Lynda Tomarelli, Assistant Research Speech and Language Therapist

Alice Smith, Research Assistant