Our most frequently asked questions

What is the Voice Collector App?

The Voice Collector App is a series of fast-paced micro-games being used to collect voice recordings of children ages 6 – 12 (with parental consent) to be used for the development of speech recognition technology in partnership with Dalhousie University’s NeuroCognitive Imaging Lab (NCIL) and Copernicus Labs, Inc.

The child voice samples will form the basis of a speech recognition engine tailored to child speech. This speech recognition engine is being built by Copernicus Labs, Inc., to be used in educational games, which they are presently developing to teach language, early literacy, and other early education skills. The speech recognition engine and the games that will use it will be commercialized.

Who can participate?

All children ages 6 – 12 can participate. We are targeting this age range in order to capture the variability of children’s voices at different stages of verbal development.

There is so much variability in children’s voices outside of this range (e.g., pre-verbal on the younger end, and post-pubescent on the older end) that it would be difficult to get reliable samples. Nevertheless, we expect that this age range will help us develop a speech recognition engine that works with children who are slightly older and slightly younger.

Our aim is to create a speech recognition engine that works for children of all language abilities and language backgrounds.

How do I sign up to participate?

To participate you must be the parent or legal guardian of a child/children ages 6 – 12. You can get started by downloading the app from Google Play and creating an account.

Email us if you have any questions at dalvoiceapp@gmail.com.

How do I install Voicecade?

If you are an Android user, you can download Voicecade directly from Google Play Store.

If you are an iOS user, you will need to install Voicecade via Apple’s TestFlight (please note that we can’t compensate Test Flight users due to Apple’s Terms of Service):

  1. Send us an email to let us know you would like us to send you a TestFlight invite.
  2. You will get an email invitation directly from Apple iTunes Store. Please watch for an email with the subject line: “TestFlight: Copernicus Labs invited you to test Voicecade.”  
    • If you don’t receive the email within one business day, please check your spam folder.
    • If you still don’t receive the email, please email us at dalvoiceapp@gmail.com and provide the email you used to sign up.
    • You can accept this invitation with the Apple ID that you are currently using. Your Apple ID and the email address to which the invite was sent don’t have to match.
  3. To accept this invitation, you must have TestFlight installed on your iOS device.
    • If you do not currently have TestFlight installed, when you click the “Start Testing” button in the email, you will be redirected to install Test Flight from the App Store. Follow Apple’s Instructions to install Test Flight. More detailed instructions can be found here: How to Install TestFlight.

How do I set up my Voicecade account?

If you need help setting up your Voicecade User Account, please see our Voicecade Participant’s Manual.

How do I play the Voice Collector App, Voicecade?

If you need help playing the games, please click on “Voicecade Game Instructions.”

What personal information is collected and how is it used?

The personal information, which is limited to a child’s age, sex, the approximate location (city) where s/he lives, and his/her proficiency with English, will only be collected from users whose parents have signed a consent form and agreed to participate in the study, PRIOR to being sent an install link.

The personal information is used to tag the speech samples, so that we know whether the voice sample comes from a male or female child, and how old that child is. We ask about location and English proficiency because this may provide information about accented speech. Speech samples need to be tagged in this way in order to properly train the speech recognition algorithms.

The personal information is not used by any features of the app.

In addition to the above, Copernicus Labs collects the personal data (email address) that parents voluntarily provide when they sign up for Voicecade during their account set up. We may use your email address to send you newsletters, email notifications, and general service-related announcements.

You may “opt out” of receiving marketing or promotional emails (“newsletters”) from us by following the unsubscribe instructions in those emails at any time; however, you cannot opt out of service-related emails and Copernicus Labs reserves the right to send you notices about your account as long as it is active.

Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.

Is the Voice Collector App always on?

No. More specifically, once every few micro-games the app will prompt the child to say out loud the name of an object shown to them on the screen. The app will start recording their voice after they tap the microphone icon, but the app will not record audio samples longer than a few seconds. It will always be clear to the user that the microphone is on, and it only stays activated for a few seconds (it does not remain “on”). The app will not incite users to speak freely.

Can I uninstall the the Voice Collector App?

Of course! You can stop participating at any time and completely uninstall the app the same as any other app.

Does the Voice Collector App need to be connected to WiFi to work?

Yes. While the games can be played without being connected to WiFi, in order to record and collect the voice samples from your child, your device will need to be connected to WiFi. If you are not connected, a pop up will appear asking to connect to WiFi. Additionally, the app will notify you if you are using data and prompt you to switch to WiFi.

How can you turn off the Voice Collector App?

When you are finished playing with the app, simply close the app. When you’re ready to play again, simply open the app. Again, the voice recording is only on for a few seconds at a time after you press the microphone icon.

How many words are you collecting?

We hope to get 150 voice samples per child. Our current goal is to get 100 participants, for a total of 15,000 voice samples!

Can I delete my child’s voice recordings?

No, you can’t delete your child’s voice recordings. Whatever data is stored on your device is only there temporarily until it is uploaded to our secure server. Once the data is uploaded, it is automatically deleted.

What is Copernicus Labs?

Copernicus Labs is an entertainment content development and production company based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We produce original, high-quality animated content for digital platforms.

We are in the process of developing a speech recognition engine specifically designed to be highly accurate in recognizing the speech of children. Existing speech recognition solutions are designed for adults and perform poorly with children’s voices. The speech recognition engine will be used in Copernicus Labs’ forthcoming speech-driven educational apps targeted at children.

What is the NeuroCognitive Imaging Lab (NCIL)?

The NeuroCognitive Imaging Lab (NCIL) at Dalhousie University (Department of Psychology and Neuroscience) was contracted by Copernicus Labs Inc, through Innovacorp, to gather voice samples from 100 children.

The NCIL is devoted to improving quality of life through brain research. We study neuroplasticity – how the brain’s organization can be affected by experience, and how this can in different situations be adaptive or disruptive. Different research projects look at topics such as second language learning, aphasia (an acquired language disorder), deafness, and sign language. We make extensive use of brain imaging technologies including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), event-related brain potentials (ERP), and magnetoencephalography (MEG). Most of our studies are aimed at improving the diagnosis and treatment of different neurological conditions.

Our ultimate goal is to help people live healthier, happier, and more productive lives. To this end, our activities follow a cycle that includes basic research, active participation in clinical settings to understand patients’ and clinicians’ needs, clinical research, and knowledge translation and commercialization.

What is Innovacorp?

Innovacorp was established in 1995 and is based in Halifax. Innovacorp is Nova Scotia’s early stage venture capital organization. They find, fund and foster innovative Nova Scotia startups that strive to change the world.

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