From February to June 2022, I participated in an internship with Respeecher, which involved implementing its technologies into healthcare-related systems.
I have always been interested in advanced technologies that could potentially become a revolution for the healthcare industry. This was why I was so happy to cooperate with an organization that helps alleviate long-lasting medical problems.
People with voice and speech disorders have difficulties when communicating with others. That’s why they often cannot enjoy their lives to the fullest and just have to deal with the inconveniences.
In their newly presented solution, Respeecher uses voice cloning technology, which promises to improve the situation. It takes speech produced by the patient and converts it into something that sounds more clear and natural with the help of artificial intelligence.
Before I started working with Respeecher, I had researched technologies used for various medical purposes. This covered diseases in fields such as epidemiology, cardiology, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Working with voice and speech disorders was a different experience for me. During the internship, my main task was to explore the difficulties and risks of voice and speech disorders and communicate with other companies or medical institutions with the same goal of establishing partnerships.
As I already had experience in medical research, I pointed out the diseases that I believed Respeecher’s voice cloning technology was ready to address. I paid particular attention to patients with laryngeal cancer who had to have their larynx completely removed (laryngectomy).
I began by checking if the current algorithm would work efficiently for laryngeal cancer patients. For this purpose, I contacted Dr. Jun Wang and his lab at the University of Texas in Austin. He provided me with voice recordings of laryngectomy patients that are now using assistive devices for speaking. I ran these records through Respeecher’s solution to find out what needs to be changed.
I also explored other diseases for which Respeecher’s voice cloning solution could work. They included Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, vocal fold paralysis, pharyngeal cancer, and dysarthria. During the course of conducting the background research, I studied pathophysiology, epidemiology, treatment approaches, and treatment flaws for these disorders.
My Internship Experience
During my high school years, I had the opportunity to work with a respectable company that was expanding into a new industry. At the beginning of every new development, there was constant consulting with experts, field research conducted, and a lot of communication with the partner institutions.
During these months, I learned what kind of creativity and proactivity a successful technology company needs.
- Creativity: The healthcare industry requires specific creativity for problem-solving via the power of observation. One of the most fascinating fields in healthcare for me is biotechnology, with its potential for revolutionary and innovative ideas that allow for in-depth exploration. The demand to find out how current treatments for voice and speech disorders can be improved and Respeecher’s aim to fulfill this demand created a complete picture for me, and that’s how I started my research. The further you go and the more you dive into the exploration, the more creativity you require to improve the technology.
- Proactivity: The crucial factor of proactivity is the ability to spread your idea and reach out to people with similar goals. Establishing a partnership with experts, achieving mutual benefits from fruitful cooperation, and having interesting and valuable conversations will make your ideas become a reality. Often, you cannot find original test data, resources, and expert statements in open sources. That’s why the ability to establish connections is such an important factor that contributes to research. It is hard to place a value on the skills I developed during my internship. Now I know how to identify potential contacts, cooperate effectively, and clearly communicate the company’s ideas to potential partners.
What will I Do Next?
I have no doubt that the company will continue operating in the healthcare industry and go on to help thousands of patients experiencing voice and speech disorders.
As for me, I’m starting college at Harvard University this fall, and my focus will be on Molecular and Cellular Biology. My dream is to become a doctor and conduct research that will help improve technologies for diagnosing, treating, and prognosing diseases that people around the world are suffering from. Voice cloning is one such technology, and I’m proud to have taken part in this journey with Respeecher.
by Stephanie Wang