Boot up the options for your digital voice assistant of choice and you’re likely to find two options for the gender you prefer interacting with: male or female. The problem is, that binary choice isn’t an accurate representation of the complexities of gender. Some people don’t identify as either male or female, and they may want their voice assistant to mirror that identity.
As third gender options are being recognized across the globe, it feels stagnant that technology is still stuck in the past only providing two binary options.
That’s why Copenhagen Pride is launching Q, the world’s first genderless voice for voice AI.
Created for a future where we are no longer defined by gender.
The project confronts a new digital universe fraught with problems. Siri, Cortana and Alexa all have female voices as research shows that users react more positively to them than they would to a male voice. But as designers make that choice they run the risk of reinforcing gender stereotypes, that female AI assistants should be helpful and caring, the male assistants should telegraph authority, and that gender is still only binary when many countries continue to recognize non-binary individuals.
Q is the world’s first gender-neutral voice for AI - an innovation ensuring technology continues to look forward, rather than back.
Led by the agency - we bought together researchers, a team of linguists, technologists, and sound designers. We started by defining the parameters by which we perceive a voice to be gendered.
We recorded the voices of two dozen people who identify as transgender or non-binary. We then ran the voices through software where the sound designer digitally altered minute details of the voices defined through the research. After testing several different versions across 4600 participants, the result was a voice that was perceived gender-neutral by the majority.
The voice is currently undergoing digitization for implementation across all voice-based AI frameworks and will be available in summer 2020 as an open-source file.