Danbury man helping Google with complex voice technology: ‘I love being a tester’

Danbury man helping Google with complex voice technology: ‘I love being a tester’

DANBURY – The coronavirus disaster has locked down the common exercise Michael Montgomery enjoys most.

“Sure, it has – dramatically,” says Montgomery. “I can’t go to TIP Squad.”

TIP Squad, which stands for Expertise and Improvements for Folks, is the piloting lab at Bethel-based Ability Beyond, the place Montgomery and his friends check new units and train these served by the nonprofit easy methods to use them.

So it was a godsend when Google enlisted Montgomery to assist develop its voice recognition expertise for individuals with impaired speech. Google’s synthetic intelligence initiative, often called Project Euphonia, is within the early analysis part, however it’s already paying off with a renewed sense of objective for the 34-year previous Redding native.

“It’s wonderful,” Montgomery mentioned throughout a Zoom interview from his Danbury group dwelling this week. “With out this, I might be going loopy.”

Montgomery has been at work all 12 months coaching voice recognition expertise put in on a Google Pixel telephone easy methods to perceive his speech. Final 12 months, he recorded three,000 phrases and has spent a lot of this 12 months fixing glitches.

What sort of glitches?

“It didn’t know Laurie’s identify,” Montgomery mentioned.

That gained’t do. Because the Senior Chief of Empowering Expertise at Means Past, Laurie Dale is one in all Montgomery’s heroes, alongside together with his mother and pop.

“On the app you may go in and edit issues and make it proper, so it learns,” Dale mentioned.

For Montgomery, who has a uncommon dysfunction often called Lesch Nyhan Syndrome, attempting to talk in order that others perceive him has been a battle.

“Undoubtedly,” he says, including that when he can’t make somebody perceive his speech, he takes it out on himself.

“I get very aggravated,” he mentioned with a figuring out smile. “I get impatient.”

However that’s occurring much less and fewer as Euphonia learns Montgomery’s “non-standard” speech patterns and renders them as voice instructions.

Michael Montgomery, who has a speech impairment, is working for Google to develop a new voice recognition system called Project Euphonia. Friday, November 20, 2020, in Danbury, Conn.

“I can management my T.V., I can management my life,” Montgomery mentioned. “And I can discuss all of that.”

A spokesperson for Google cautioned that the Euphonia undertaking was within the early analysis part, and the promising purposes of the expertise weren’t imminent.

“At this level we don’t have a specific timetable to share, however we’re working day-after-day on easy methods to strategy and make the most of voice samples and speech patterns of individuals with neurological situations,” mentioned spokesperson Zoe Ortiz. “That is one thing we’re extremely dedicated to.”

Ortiz famous that one of many early purposes of the expertise is creating real-time textual content transcripts to assist individuals with issue talking to clarify connections.

“If there’s a tester who must go to the grocery retailer and might use this (real-time transcription function) to assist that grocer to grasp what they want, that’s extremely useful,” Ortiz mentioned. “It is just going to additional their independence.”

On the finish of the day, Google’s aim is nothing wanting a speech recognition system that understands everybody’s voice.

For that to occur, the Large Tech large might want to add to its database of non-standard voices.

Up to now, Google has collected about 1,000 hours of non-standard speech from 1,000 testers like Montgomery.

For Montgomery’s work, he receives a stipend and the peace of mind that he’s doing his half to alter the world together with his voice.

“Sure,” Montgomery agreed with a nod. “Undoubtedly.”

rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342

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