My voice that I knew was taken from me. People around me struggle to understand when I speak,” said a voice instantly recognizable as actor Wall Kilmer in a video shared on YouTube last week.
The actor lost his natural voice in Hollywood after throat cancer surgery in 2015 ruined his life and permanently changed the way he communicated. That is, by the end of last year, Sonandic, a UK-based software company that cloned voices for artists and studios, helped Kilmer speak again.
Even the most popular artificial voices based on real people like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa are fake. But a wave of startups are scaling up artificial intelligence voice cloning services for digital assistants, video games and studio studios.
Voices created during the DeepFax era have become more realistic, using technology to manipulate the content that AI has created. These media are so good, it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between the human voice and their fellow man-made voices.
Five years after Gilmour’s surgery, his representatives contacted Sonanti to digitally restore his lost voice.
“So that’s what we did,” said Sonatic CEO and co-founder Gina Qureshi. “Wall’s team wants to give him a voice again so he can continue to grow.”
The project began in December 2020 when Kilmer finished taping his life in Hollywood and the documentary “Tale” against cancer.
Sonatic’s AI technology is not featured in the film. However, the company released a clip with over 18,000 views on YouTube.
Kilmer’s plan came a month after the release of the Morgan Neville documentary, that he used anonymous voice cloning software to imitate the late chef Anthony Bourdin in the commercial film “Roadrunner”. Neville received criticism from the late actor’s widow, Ottavia Bordin, who was controversial about recreating her husband’s voice through AI.