OneVoice for iPad Gives Others a Voice

Posted by Bonnie Eisenman on April 11th, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Most uses for the iPad are purely recreational: watching movies, checking email, playing Angry Birds. However, some apps are far more than just entertaining, or even useful—some apps have the potential to create real, meaningful change in their users' lives. OneVoice aims to be such an app. An iPad app that focuses on simplicity and usability, OneVoice is an "augmented communication app" that speaks for its users.

OneVoice lets users either select from a display of icons or type in words to form sentences and phrases, and then speaks the words aloud. Thus, OneVoice allows its users to "speak" by tapping out their desired phrases. The developers intended for it to help people with communication disabilities, whether those disabilities were caused by stroke or traumatic brain injuries, autism, multiple sclerosis, or another cause.

The developers also cite the general clunkiness of most "augmented communication" apps and devices as a major source of inspiration for creating the app. By contrast, OneVoice tries to keep things simple and prizes usability over stuffing lots of functions into a complicated package. OneVoice also offers plenty of customization—users can select from different voices, add their own vocabulary, upload personal pictures and icons, and turn to the keyboard when they exhaust the icons.

OneVoice is available in the App Store for $199. That's significantly more than your average iPad app, but the developers are quick to stress that it's cheap considering the app's market:

Designer Nathan Barry of Legend was inspired to create the affordable, easy-to-use application after learning that many people affected by speech disabilities cannot afford the devices currently available on the market. At $199.99, OneVoice is significantly less expensive than similar devices, the most common of which cost many thousands of dollars. OneVoice can change the way people with speech disabilities interact with their families, friends, and the world around them.

It's always inspiring to see truly great uses of the iPad, and I think that this app qualifies as such. Most games and apps are geared towards entertainment or procrastination, but OneVoice has a much more meaningful goal. Be sure to watch the demo video to see the app in action.