At Future Human 2022, Marino Software’s Keith Davey and Maynooth University’s Trevor Vaugh spoke about the latest developments in voice-banking tech and how it can benefit those with motor neurone disease.

“When people can’t use their voice, even a robotic one but particularly their own voice, they lose a lot of confidence. And when they lose confidence, they can often slide into depression and disengage from the rest of their treatment.”

At Future Human, Marino Software CEO Keith Davey highlighted the importance of voice-banking technology for people who have conditions that impact their ability to communicate, such as motor neurone disease.

Speaking with Silicon Republic editor Elaine Burke, Davey and Trevor Vaugh were discussing the software they have worked on to help give those with motor neurone disease their voice back.

Vaugh is the principal investigator at the Maynooth University Innovation Lab and is known for his work on RTÉ’s the Big Life Fix – a show that develops innovations to help people who have various medical conditions.

Working together on the programme, Vaugh and Davey helped Róisín Foley to continue communicating with her family. Foley was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2017, which will eventually render her unable to speak with her family.

After that, the family of Irish broadcaster Charlie Bird got in touch with the team. Bird revealed last year that he has been diagnosed with motor neurone disease and is losing his voice – but wants to be able to continue communicating with his family using voice-banking technology.

Vaugh spoke about how a number of companies he asked to assist on the project were unavailable, as they were focused on more commercial projects or “following the money”.

He said it’s important to encourage tech companies that have the right expertise to look into areas such as voice banking for those with motor neurone disease. “The fruit is hanging so low, this isn’t extraordinary, this is bringing pieces that already exist together.”


Words by Leigh Mc Gowran