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Danbury Man Assisting Google with Complex Voice Technology: I Love Being a Tester

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Michael Montgomery, who has a voice impairment, is working on a new voice recognition system called Project Euphonia at Google. Montgomery has Lauriedale of Ability Beyond, a senior leader in technology enhancements. Friday, November 20, 2020, Danbury, Connecticut.

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Michael Montgomery, who has a voice impairment, is working on a new voice recognition system called Project Euphonia at Google.Raleighdale, Senior Leader of Abilities Beyond, Along with Montgomery

… Detailed Photo: H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media

Photo: H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media

Michael Montgomery, who has a voice impairment, is working on a new voice recognition system called Project Euphonia at Google. Montgomery has Lauriedale of Ability Beyond, a senior leader in technology enhancements. Friday, November 20, 2020, Danbury, Connecticut.

Less

Michael Montgomery, who has a voice impairment, is working on a new voice recognition system called Project Euphonia at Google.Raleighdale, Senior Leader of Abilities Beyond, Along with Montgomery

… Detailed Photo: H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media

Danbury Man Assisting Google with Complex Voice Technology: I Love Being a Tester

The Danbury-Coronavirus crisis has limited the normal activities that Michael Montgomery enjoys most.

“Yes, it’s dramatic,” says Montgomery. “I can’t go to the TIP Squad.”

TIP Squad, an abbreviation for Technology and Innovations for People, is Bethel-based Ability Beyond pilot lab where Montgomery and his colleagues test new devices and teach them how to use devices offered by nonprofits.

That’s why it was a godsend for Google to ask Montgomery to help develop speech recognition technology for people with speech disabilities. Google’s artificial intelligence initiative, known as Project Euphonia, is in its early stages of research, but has already been successful with the new sense of purpose of the 34-year-old Reading Native.

“That’s great,” Montgomery said in a zoom interview from his Danbury group home this week. “Without this, I would be crazy.”

Montgomery has been working all year long on how to understand his speech with training in speech recognition technology installed on Google Pixel smartphones. Last year he recorded 3,000 phrases and spent much of the year fixing glitches.

What kind of glitch?

“It didn’t know Raleigh’s name,” Montgomery said.

It doesn’t. As a senior leader in Ability Beyond’s empowerment technology, Laurie Dale, along with her mother and father, is one of Montgomery’s heroes.

“The app lets you edit and get things right, so you’ll learn,” says Dale.

For Montgomery, who suffers from a rare disease known as Lesch-Nyhan syndrome, trying to talk to others to understand him was a battle.

“No doubt,” he says, and when he can’t get someone to understand his speech, he picks it up himself.

“I’m very frustrated,” he said with a smile he knew. “I’m impatient.”

But as Euphonia learns Montgomery’s “non-standard” voice patterns and renders them as voice commands, it’s not happening more and more.

“I can control my TV and my life,” Montgomery said. “And I can talk about all that.”

A Google spokesperson warned that the Euphonia project is in the early stages of research and that promising applications of technology are not imminent.

“At this point, we don’t have a specific schedule to share, but we’re working every day on how to approach and use voice samples and patterns in people with neurological conditions,” said spokesman Zoe Ortiz. I will. “This is what we are working on incredibly.”

Ortiz said one of the earliest applications of this technology was to create real-time text transcripts that help people who have difficulty speaking make clear connections.

“If you need to go to a grocery store and have a tester who can use this (real-time transcription feature) to help the grocery store understand what you need, it’s very helpful,” Ortiz said. Stated. “It only promotes their independence.”

After all, Google’s goal is nothing more than a speech recognition system that understands everyone’s voice.

To do this, the Big Tech giant needs to add it to a non-standard voice database.

So far, Google has collected about 1,000 hours of non-standard speech from 1,000 testers like Montgomery.

For the work of Montgomery, he receives scholarships and guarantees that he is playing his role in changing the world in his voice.

“Yes,” Montgomery nodded. “definitely.”

[email protected] 203-731-3342

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