Augmentation of Vocal Prosody Perception

I'm the primary inventor of Vocal Intonation Boosting (VIB)


Intonation is the primary component of vocal prosody that conveys emotion. People's ability to accurately discern and modulate their own intonation (and therefore emotion) in speech varies. I suspect that deficits in prosody perception is due to a confluence of relatively low loudness of tones at intonation frequency in human voice and variation in human's ability to discern intonation from harmonics.

VIB systems synthetically increase the loudness intonation tones in speech. This appears to increase people's awareness of prosody in speech, thereby enhancing their ability to accurately convey emotion in their own speech, and discern emotion in others'.

UTEP has been awarded four patents for my inventions related to intonation boosting.

I formed Freudensong LLC, which has licensed those patents. Its initial speech enhancement product, which works in a web browser, is called SoothingResonance.

What is prosody?

Prosody is the modulation of loudness, cadence, and vocal pitch (frequency) in vocal speech.

In English, prosody primarily conveys supra-segmental information.

  • Segmental aspects of speech communicate the vowel & consonant sounds that comprise words.

  • In contrast, supra-segmental aspects of speech primarily convey

    • Intent such as distinguishing questions (frequently with rising pitch) from commands (generally with falling pitch)

    • Syllable stress, and

    • Emotion such as anger, patience, or condescension.

    • In addition, when in conversation, prosody is used to distinguish whether a speaker intends to continue speaking or is open to questions.

Ability to perceive (and therefore employ) prosody varies.

  • Extremes

    • Some people with autistic spectrum disorders have severely impaired perception of intonation. Many have trouble discerning questions from statements in others' speech. And it's hard to learn how to produce intonation patterns that one cannot hear or understand.

    • Masterful communicators are able discern subtle emotional cues embedded within other's prosody.

      • And similarly convey such nuances in their own speech.

  • The continuum in-between

    • Most people can use prosody to accurately distinguish questions from statements in their own and others' speech.

    • However, they may not be facile discerning and conveying emotion.

    • VIB appears to dramatically both improve such people's perception of intent and mood, and, and their ability masterfully utilize prosody in spoken conversation.