New device may help paralysed people 'speak' by transforming breath into words

Experts at the university are developing speech analysis software Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire/Press Association Images

A prototype device being developed at Loughborough University, which transforms breath into words, could help give voice to victims of paralysis in what is thought to be a world first.

Experts at the university are developing speech analysis software which can be programmed to interpret a person's pattern of breathing, turning it into speech.

An early version of the new device, which currently consists of a breathing mask and analogue-to digital computer analyser, gives new hope to those suffering from severe speech loss, according to its developers.

Academics at the Leicestershire-based university believe their device could be of particular use to those suffering from acute paralysis, because it works differently to similar previous inventions.

The new device is different because it interprets changes in the way a person breathes, and can transform these patterns into language using a linked voice synthesiser machine.

It is hoped a person would be able to create their own language, by varying the speed of their breathing, and then programming the device to match different patterns to individual words or phrases.

The device was developed by Dr Kerr, senior lecturer at the university's School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering and Dr Kaddour Bouazza-Marouf, reader in Mechatronics in Medicine.

With a working prototype now finished, the next phase will be to secure a trial of the device in a clinical setting.