Audio-based animation studio Speech Graphics has created 'Simone', a CG speech teacher that aims to help language learners master correct pronunciation by showing them how they move their tongue, teeth, jaw, lips and the like.
Watch the video above to see Simone in action.
Simone was created for language learning site Saundz.com. Users of the site's service can switch from seeing the full model pronounce words to strip back her skin and see the movement of her mouth, nose and throat.
Rather than for some ghoulish Hannibal Lecter-like reasons, this facility exists to let users see the mechanics of pronunciation – so they can copy it themselves.
Speech Graphics says that users can switch between front and side view or watch in slow motion to see the tongue move through a sound. Smoke effects indicate airflow, visualising the invisible elements of speech such as air turbulence and vibration inside the mouth creating the difference between ‘s’ and ‘z’, or passage of air through the nose distinguishing ‘n’ from ‘d’.
As well as helping to make people understood better in a new language, Speech Graphics also says that copying from Simone also helps reduce users original accent when speaking it.
"Speech is the most sophisticated voluntary motor activity in the body. The motions are lightning fast and totally fluid, yet deadly accurate," says Michael Berger, CTO of Speech Graphics and director of the project. "People watching the animation are fascinated by the ‘acrobatic’ performance of the tongue which has never been seen so clearly before."
You can see some of the different positions of Simone's tongue, palate, teeth, jaw and lips in the images below.