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Rupal Patel
Most Creative People 2017

Rupal Patel

Founder and CEO, VocalID

For being a vocal advocate

A few years ago, speech scientist Rupal Patel overheard a young girl and an adult man speaking to each other through assistive devices, each of which used the same generic male voice. “I thought, There’s something wrong here,” Patel recalls. “We don’t give people the same prosthetic limbs, and yet we’re doing that with the prosthetic voice.” So in 2014, she founded VocaliD, which creates unique voices for people with speech impairments (often due to autism, disease, or disorders such as cerebral palsy). The custom voices—which can be loaded onto speech-replicating devices or used with a smartphone—are based on a user’s natural vocal rhythms and fit with their age, gender, and personality. “It’s not just recipients making the decision—it’s also their loved ones,” Patel says. “One father said, ‘I love this voice because it sounds strong.’ Another liked a voice because it sounded compassionate.”

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