Siri and Alexa may have some competition soon in the form of a genderless voice. It’s hard to imagine, but there can be such a thing. A team of linguists, sound designers, and technologists are working to make “Q” happen. The process has been tough, but there is a result.
At first the group, put together by Copenhagen Pride and Vice’s Virtue division, tried to blend a variety of voices into one; that was not pretty. So, the idea now is to hone in on the vocal sweet spot between 145 and 175 hertz. In that range, the waters of gender get muddied and it’s nearly a genderless tone, as well as pleasing to the ear.
There’s a website to show “Q” off and you can change up the voice’s range. It’s still being perfected and while that’s happening, the hope is to pressure tech companies to use Q.
One hurdle to get over is the fact that people react more positively to a female voice. The Q team says that helps enforce stereotypes. Then there is the expectation of being able to identify a gender through voice. The team is working on those issues.