On March 11, a gender-neutral voice was heard at the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas. The Danish creative agency Virtue, in collaboration with the Copenhagen Pride festival, designed to eliminate prejudices in the technology world.
The voice, which was called Q, is positioned as an alternative to the voice assistants Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, using the female voice in managing mobile applications or the smart home system.
“Technology companies continue to genderize voices in their developments as the voice assistants in our life are prevalent. Developers believe that it becomes more comfortable for consumers to use these functions,” said Virtue in a statement.
At the same time, the agency stresses, male voices are used for more “authoritative” tasks, for example, in mobile banking, while female voices are used primarily in the field of “service” tasks.
To create Q, developers have teamed up with linguist Anna Jorgensen from the university in Copenhagen, who helped define what a gender-neutral voice should be.
Sound engineers taped five voices that did not sound as woman or man whatsoever.
Then the records were combined using specially crafted software using Jorgensen’s research data and neutralized the difference.
They checked the results based on a survey of 4,600 people from European countries. Participants were asked to evaluate each audio file on a scale from one to five, where the first value brought the voice closer to the one, which could belong to a man and the second – to a woman.
After processing the received data, the audio file was passed through the software again. The procedure was repeated until the respondents agreed that they heard a voice sounding gender-neutral.
Technology should originate from a new cultural reality, not outdated. Using data and observations from our global network, the opportunity to promote technology that is becoming more common in our lives was found. Q represents a voice that does not belong to one person but belongs to everyone who strives for equality in the future.
While Virtue is just beginning to develop a suitable artificial intelligence system for introducing Q into various devices and hopes that there will be a place for the voice not only in the gadgets but also in the infrastructure of the cities.
Guest article written by: Melisa Marzett is a former journalist and a currently working as a freelance writer for top-notch custom papers for college. She loves her job very much, but she knows how to rest at the same time. She enjoys all kinds of sports and is always up for a challenge.