Intel, Dell and Rolls-Royce launch interactive website to help people with motor neurone disease communicate: Why it matters

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Intel, Dell Technologies, Rolls-Royce and the UK-based Motor Neurone Disease Association have announced the launch of I Will Always Be Me, a “digital storybook” to help people with neurological disease. motor neuron to “preserve their voice”. Through this new interactive website, anyone can record their voice reading a 1,000 word story to create a digital voice bank to help the motor neurone disease (MND) community. The technology will essentially help people with MND communicate with others with their own voice or use phrases recorded by others. The website also aims to highlight the complexity and challenges of living with MND “as told through the voices of people living with MND”.

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What is motor neuron disease

Motor neuron disease is defined as a condition that affects the brain and nerves, resulting in speech impairment. At this point, there is no cure, but there are technologies available to help people communicate. The UK-based MND Association points out that one in 300 people will be diagnosed with MND at some point.

Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, who died in 2018, is perhaps the person best known for his work in general relativity and cosmology, despite being diagnosed with ALS.

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How “I Will Always Be Me” Helps People With MND

In a blog post, Intel explains that recorded voices are transformed into a “digital voice” that people living with MND can use on any voice-assisted device. The “I Will Always Be Me” website, which is also live at this point, features artwork by many artists and voiceovers provided by people living with MND.

He also notes that the registration process requires payment, but if you live in the UK you can apply for funding from the MND Association or MND Scotland once your registration is available and ready. In the FAQ section, the I Will Always Be Me website points out that Dell Technologies will provide laptops that can be “loaned to anyone who needs and wants to bank their voice”. For regular users who wish to contribute to this digital voice project, it will cost GBP 200 (around Rs 20,000) to avail the service. It appears that the website is currently offering services to users in the UK.

What roles Intel, Dell Technologies and Rolls-Royce play in this initiative

Intel says the company provides expertise in several areas, including shaping user experience and site accessibility. Intel-based servers also provide the computing power needed to analyze, process and digitize a voice.

Darryl Adams, Director of Accessibility at Intel, said in the blog post, “Together with our partners, we are bringing voice banking and digitization technology from a niche use case to a mainstream audience while uncovering avenues of innovation on how technology can address more accessibility challenges.”

On the other hand, Dell apparently contacted Intel in 2020 to help build the interactive website. As mentioned, the company is donating Intel-powered laptops to the MND association, to allow more people to record their voice.

Roll-Royce is also providing capital to help build the interactive site. Intel’s blog notes that the project is close to Stuart Moss, head of IT innovation at Rolls-Royce, who lost his father to MND on Christmas Day eight years ago.

Alternative projects

While the project of the three companies in partnership with the MND association is considered, some technology companies are also undertaking innovations to increase awareness of MND. Google had launched the “Look to Speak” app in December 2020 to help people with speech disabilities communicate with their eye moments. The app’s services were extended to users in India in November 2021.

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