Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Visual feedback for vocal variety

Imagine practicing public speaking with a display showing a bar graph of how the pitch range for your voice was varying. It could silently warn if you were speaking in a monotone rather than conveying emotion via wide variations. Wouldn’t that be a great tool for increasing your vocal variety?

You don’t have to imagine it, because it already exists. In the October 2009 issue of an online magazine called Language Learning and Technology Rebecca Hincks and Jens Edlund at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm described a computerized system for Promoting Increased Pitch Variation in Oral Presentations with Transient Visual Feedback. They developed it as a research tool for teaching presentations in English as a second language. In the above image I called it a liveliness meter.

Right now it’s not a product that you can buy off-the-shelf. It might be someday though. As Randy Bachman of Bachman-Turner Overdrive once sang: “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

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