Top 5 tech companies in the world partner with U of I to improve voice recognition software

The top five technology companies in the world are partnering with the University of Illinois.

Their goal is to improve the voice recognition software we use every day, for individuals with disabilities that impact speech.

"The speech of individuals with Parkinson’s is going to present and sound very differently than someone who has an ALS or cerebral palsy or someone with Down Syndrome, so this is the first time capturing the breadth of different diagnoses," said Clarion Mendes, a UIUC speech language pathologist assistant professor.

The university was selected by Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta and Microsoft for the project.


"All of them have products that use speech in some way, so speech to speech translation or teleconferencing or cell phones or smart speakers, there's just a tremendous range for applications for speech technology," said Mark Hasegawa-Johnson, a UIUC electrical and computer engineering professor.

Through the university’s Beckman Institute, data scientists, speech pathologists and other experts in their fields will gather thousands of speech samples with the goal of making life easier for the disabled.

And, the U of I has a long history of enhancing life for this community.

"The first wheelchair Olympics in the United States were held at the University of Illinois. The architectural standard that became the American standard for accessibility buildings were initially prototyped at the University of Illinois.  One of the first wheelchair accessible buses in the country was running in Urbana-Champaign," said Hasegawa-Johnson.

The information and research the university compiles will be sent to the various tech companies, so they can improve the software.

For more information on the project, or to participate, visit