BWM Dentsu Group launches groundbreaking voice cloning program 'Project Revoice' for people with Motor Neuron Disease (ALS)

Project Revoice.JPG
CB Exclusive - BWM Dentsu and its PR arm, Haystac, have launched Project Revoice with the ALS Association in the US and MND Australia.

The groundbreaking initiative introduces a breakthrough in speech technology for people living with ALS (Motor Neuron Disease), enabling those who lose the ability to talk, to continue speaking in their own authentic and personal voice.

To launch the initiative, Project Revoice has given Pat Quinn, co-founder of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, his voice back. Pat did not record (or bank) his voice before ALS robbed him of his ability to speak. Using footage from his many Ice Bucket interviews, the team were able to re-build his voice.

In the past, people with ALS could use pre-recorded messages to communicate, but the BWM Dentsu Group worked with Canadian software partner Lyrebird to create a complete voice clone. This allows Pat to speak freely and naturally in his own voice, rather than a 'machine' voice, when linked to his eye reader assistive technology. The man who gave ALS a voice now has his own voice back.

"This new breakthrough will change the future of personal communication for people who are diagnosed with ALS from here-on," says Brian Frederick, Executive Vice President of Communications, ALS Association.
 
As a collaboration between BWM Dentsu, Haystac, Lyrebird, Finch, Rumble Studios, Space 66 and the ALS Association, it took a year to bring this revolutionary speech synthesis project to life.

Project Revoice is now working to encourage MND and ALS communities around the world to record their voices so they can be digitally recreated in the future using this innovative new voice cloning technology.

Says Pat Quinn, co-founder, ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: "ALS takes and takes and takes. This time I will take something back! For those living with ALS to know that they can still speak freely - in their own voice - even after ALS takes it away, will transform the way people live with this disease."

Says Asheen Naidu, ECD at BWM Dentsu: "Being able to give Pat his voice back and seeing what that means to him and his family, has been incredibly rewarding. Knowing that this tech is literally going to transform the lives of thousands more, is something we're all very proud of."
 
Project Revoice can be viewed here. For more information on the project and to sign up for updates on Project Revoice - visit projectrevoice.org. To hear how your re-voiced voice might sound, you can check a lower-quality demo version at lyrebird.ai.
 

Creative Agency: BWM Dentsu 
Chief Creative Officer: Rob Belgiovane 
Executive Creative Director: Asheen Naidu 
Senior Creative Team: RenĂ© Schultz & Oskar Westerdal 
Film Producer: Emma Durlacher 
Design Director: Eeuwout 'Dutchy' Baart
Digital Producer: Jenna Mills
Director: Brett Ludeman
Editor: Brendon Killen
 
PR Agency: Haystac
National General Manager Haystac: Jason Carnew
General Manager Haystac Sydney: Sarah Littlefair
 
Technology Partner: Lyrebird
Co-Founder and CEO: Alexandre de Brébisson
Co-Founders: Jose Sotelo & Kundan Kumar
Head of Operations: David Dodero
 
Production Company: FINCH
Director: Brett Ludeman
Executive Producer: Corey Esse
Producer: Claire Thompson
 
Technology Partner: Nakatomi
Managing Director: Emad Tahtouh
Producer: Cara Szabo
Engineer: Hamish Pain
Senior Engineer: Patrick Barnes
Interactive Team Lead: Ben Bray
 
Sound & Music: Rumble Studios
Sound Designers: Tone Aston & Cam Milne
Post Producer: Sha Toth
Music Producer: Michael Gie
Composer: Darren Lim
 
Website: Space 66
General Manager: Christopher Gregson   
Creative Director: Elliot Owen 

12 Comments

Groundbreaking? said:

Some work done by the Motor Neurone Disease Association in England which they actively roll out as part of the the NHS. Their only mistake is not investing in a proper case study video.

http://www.itv.com/news/tyne-tees/2017-10-09/giving-a-voice-to-people-living-with-motor-neurone-disease/

It's called Voice Banking guys...this video from 2016.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-P6qGIeedE

Bob said:

This is a great application of the Lyrebird technology for a purpose that has the potential to help many people beyond just the ALS communtity. Congrats to the team of people who made it happen.

Cannes Judge. said:

Lyrebird and this site has been around for quite a while.
Other than give this a fancy name, what exactly have the agency done here?

Asheen Naidu, ECD BWM Dentsu said:

I don't usually respond to comments about our work, but since this was such an emotional project for the entire team, I thought I should offer some clarity on why it's different.

As mentioned in our article, voice banking does exist. But while current voice banking only allows you to record stock phrases or piece together words, it limits the user and doesn't sound natural. With Project Revoice the tech analyses the very DNA of the voice incorporating nuances like pitch, tone and inflection and digitally recreates the entire voice, so the user can say anything they want any time they want, speaking freely. So it will sound like a normal, natural conversation. As if they hadn't even lost their voice.

In Pat's case, it was even more challenging since he hadn't even banked his voice. So, we approached Lyrebird, who don't usually play in the not for profit space, to use hundreds of his ALS interviews to digitally recreate his voice. The man who co-founded the Ice Bucket Challenge had lost his voice. And now he has it back.

So in short, while voice banking has been incredibly helpful to the ALS community in giving them access to selected words and phrases, this new tech now gives them the ability to speak absolutely freely, in their own unique voices. And hopefully from the reaction of Pat and his family, you'll see how incredibly important that really is.

I think someone's cutting onions nearby said:

Incredible. Well done team.

CG said:

Such beautiful work - this is the new era of ad agency work, helping make the world a better place, driving the right conversations and making a true impact in people's lives. Congratulations to the whole team, this is inspiring.

Lovely idea. said:

Proper feel good work.

DrFeelGoodWork said:


It seems like a wonderful idea.

And the highly emotive case study is very award friendly indeed.

But what is it that you're selling?

I get that you gave a guy his voice back. That's amazing.

As an idea, that's beautiful. But unless other people across the world have given hundreds of recorded speeches I'm not entirely sure what problem it is that you're solving - other than one man's.

If it's to publicise voice banks - well, everybody who knows about ALS is aware of them.

If I make a unique wheelchair ramp for my neighbour should I enter it into Cannes?

It's for one guy - but it's advertising ramps in general.

'Making the world a better place' is basically all we have left as an Australian industry so we're milking it dry.

If you didn't enter this as an award I would think the world of you.

If you're planning on entering everything, as I suspect you are as the idea is in conjunction with a PR company then this is award bait.

Jon said:

This must have been incredible to work on. What a special project. Great to see ideas that raise the bar in terms of tech for good.

Nice, but... said:

Nice work, but that case video needs to be cut down.

Also nice, but... said:

Only 5,918 views and 1 Share

ALREADY DONE said:

They had already done that before in Italy one year ago.....
ctuallly it was shorlisted in Cannes lions 2017

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LVpQzH9Q2E

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