Motor neurone disease voice-banking is coming to Ireland

6 Oct 2023

Image: © jittawit.21/

The service will let users bank their voice in less than half an hour and is being supported by fundraising conducted by Charlie Bird.

A new voice-banking service is coming to Ireland soon, to help those living with motor neurone disease (MND) get their voice back.

This service – called ‘I will always be me’ – lets people with motor neurone disease bank their voice by reading an e-book aloud. The team behind the service – SpeakUnique – claims this service can bank enough of a user voice’s in less than half an hour.

Once the person’s voice is banked, they can use a new digital voice that is designed to replicate their own, through assistive speech devices. It is estimated that more than 80pc of people with MND experience slurred, quiet or a complete loss of speech.

The service is designed by Dell, Intel and Rolls Royce in collaboration with the Motor Neurone Disease Association in the UK. The Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association (IMNDA) said it will soon be available free of charge for people living with MND in Ireland.

The charity is introducing the new service thanks to a record level of fundraising achieved last year. The organisation raised €2.8m in 2022, with a further €1.7m raised thanks to Irish former broadcaster Charlie Bird’s ‘Climb with Charlie’ event.

Bird was diagnosed with MND towards the end of 2021 and has been supporting various organisations with his climbing fundraiser since.

“What Charlie Bird and his wife Claire achieved was nothing short of remarkable and we’re happy to announce the completion of a number of projects in the last ten months as a result of the funds raised,” IMNDA CEO Lillian McGovern said.

The Irish charity said the funding has also been used to expand its nursing team and create new services for more than 450 people who live with MND in Ireland.

Bird worked with Irish software consultancy Marino Software to be able to communicate with his family using voice-banking technology.

Marino Software CEO Keith Davey and Maynooth University assistant professor Trevor Vaugh spoke at Future Human 2022 about how voice-banking tech can change the lives of people who have MND.

In June,’s Ann O’Dea spoke to Ireland’s leading authority in neurology, Prof Orla Hardiman, about a life dedicated to improving the lives of those with MND.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic