THE GENDERLESS VOICE

ClientCOPENHAGEN PRIDE
Category B02. Use of Audio Technology / Voice Activation
TitleTHE GENDERLESS VOICE
Product/ServiceQ
Entrant VIRTUE Copenhagen, DENMARK
Idea Creation VIRTUE Copenhagen, DENMARK
PR VIRTUE Copenhagen, DENMARK
Production VIRTUE Copenhagen, DENMARK
Additional Company COPENHAGEN PRIDE, DENMARK
Credits
Name Company Position
Emil Asmussen Virtue Creative Director
Ryan Sherman VIRTUE Senior Creative
Jacob Ziegler VIRTUE Senior Designer
Haywood Watkins III VIRTUE Senior Copywriter
Sahand Porkar VIRTUE Creative Technologist
Laura Misslebrook VIRTUE SVP Communications
Laura Van Horssen VIRTUE Head of Communications
Hannah Benabdallah VIRTUE Brand Communications Manager
Tobias Holz VIRTUE Talent Director
Bruno Carvalho VIRTUE Producer
Anders Lindved VIRTUE DOP
Max Siegal VIRTUE Editor
Nis Nørgaard Thirtysoundsgood Sound Engineer
Julie Carpenter Accenture Consultant
Laust Deleuran Koaliton UX designer & front-end developer
Morten Grubak VIRTUE Executive Creative Director
Rob Newlan VIRTUE CEO
Dominique Delport VIRTUE President

View Script

Write a short summary of what happens in the radio or audio execution or campaign.

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. We created Q - the first genderless voice for Ai assistants - a voice that is neither male nor female. To launch the voice, Q reads an open letter arguing why we need a genderless option and encourages people to pass the message on. Audio-based media platforms acted as the perfect medium for Q to drive the discussion forward, sparking a global conversation across many countries and languages with the open letter at the core. Here, the medium of audio really is the message.

Cultural / Context information for the jury

Q, a gender-neutral voice for use in voice assistive technologies, was developed in part to contribute to a global discussion about gender and technology. Q can be viewed as inclusive nonbinary gender option for AI and natural language interactivity that is embedded in things we interact with in our everyday world, from GPS to phone and home assistants or even robots or appliances. People seem to have a preference for female voices when the role of the AI is more supportive and to assist or help someone, while they associate male voices with an authoritative tone or an area of expertise - but there is no reason that a voice has to be gendered. - Julie Carpenter, Research Fellow, California State Polytechnic University. “We would never accept that AI assistants had stereotypical slave or ethnic names - so why are tech companies reinforcing gender stereotypes".

Script. Provide the full radio advert script in English.

Hi, I’m Q - the world’s first Genderless Voice Assistant. Think of me like Siri or Alexa, But neither male nor female. I’m created for a future where we are no longer defined by gender, but rather how we define ourselves. My voice was recorded by people who neither identify as male, nor female. And then altered to sound gender neutral, putting my voice between 145 and 175 hertz. A range defined by audio researchers. But for me to become a third option for voice assistants, I need your help. Share my voice with Apple, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. And together we can ensure..that technology recognizes us all. Thanks for listening, Q

Explain how the work innovatively used the radio / audio medium.

Led by the agency - we bought together researchers, a team of linguists, technologists, and sound designers. We started by defining the parameters by which perceive voice to be gendered. The speaking fundamental frequency determines how we perceive a voice to be gendered - the female voice sitting between 175 - 220Hz, the male between 80 - 140Hz. 145-175Hz is considered neutral. 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 as the first ever genderless voice option.