Chinese media outlet IT Home reported yesterday that an artificial throat developed by a group of Tsinghua University researchers had restored communication on November 13 to a high-profile businessman who lost his voice to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
Cai Lei, a former vice president of e-commerce giant JD.com, is one of the most famous ALS victims in China. He regained his voice after wearing the artificial throat built by Tsinghua University scientists.
Chinese media reported in March this year that a group of researchers led by Professor Ren Tianling, who teaches at the School of Integrated Circuits, had come up with a wearable artificial throat.
According to the researchers, it breaks down human voice into acoustic signals and synthesizes them into soundbites that are 90% similar to the original owner of the voice.
Cai, 45, who has been battling ALS for four years, is reportedly the world’s first user of this gadget.
The device gathered data about his voice from previous soundbites, processed them, and emitted a sound almost “identical” to his voice when he was healthy, IT Home reported.
“I’m very happy to be using the wearable artificial throat developed by Professor Ren Tianling and his team at Tsinghua University. It will help restore the ability to communicate to those suffering voice disorders or permanent loss of voice,” Cai said cheerfully.
He said he felt lucky as the world’s first ALS patient to use this artificial throat. “Technology changes life. I believe mankind definitely will conquer ALS,” Cai said.
The former JD executive was diagnosed with ALS in October 2019. From then on he has dedicated his energies and resources to helping and saving the lives of ALS victims like him.
His plight, which was captured in widespread news reports, drew more attention to the disease, with medtech researchers racing against each other to work out cures.