BeneTalk is a biofeedback device and mobile app that monitors breathing and speech patterns, and provides real-time feedback and performance history tracking, assisting people who stutter to improve their communication during daily activities.
Who are we?
We are a team of scientists, engineers, speech and language therapists (SLTs) and people who stutter, working together to develop wearable electronics and practical techniques to help people who stutter improve their communication and reduce their struggle.
Our goal is to help the community of people who stutter to reach their full potential and provide data to enable systematic research on stuttering. In order to do so, we’re developing new technology and launching a crowdfunding campaign.
What are the challenges of speech therapy for people who stutter?
People who stutter have usually developed disrupted vocal tract coordination patterns over many years, and establishing new speaking patterns can be very hard. For many, the problem lies not so much in learning new techniques to control their speech and reduce struggle, but in being able to apply them consistently and in a range of situations away from the clinic, where it is all too easy to forget to apply practices that worked under the immediate feedback of the clinician and in the safe confines of the speech therapy clinic.
Additionally, people usually don’t stutter all the time. For those who stutter less frequently, it is very easy to forget to implement helpful techniques because, for the greater majority of the time, they are not needed and thus become neglected.
Furthermore, there is evidence of a lack of adequate speech and language therapy provision in the UK : some areas of the country have no service for adults who stutter and many SLTs have limited formal training in established psychological therapies .
Finally, the amount of technology-oriented towards understanding and treating stuttering is limited: there is no viable technological solution to improve speech therapy and maintenance for people who stutter.
How can BeneTalk help?
BeneTalk is a wearable device that acts as a virtual coach. It assists any person who stutters in the arduous task of learning new speech-related breathing techniques, which have been discussed and demonstrated to be effective in a number of studies   .
As BeneTalk is worn during the day, it learns about the user and provides a customised response that will maximize the adoption of the new habits. The user is able to create targets to tailor the speed of the learning experience.
Unlike the devices based on Altered Auditory Feedback, BeneTalk is designed to help with the transfer and maintenance of techniques that speech and language therapists teach.
Compared to other computerised feedback devices and apps used during a few hours per day dedicated to "fluency practice", BeneTalk provides the user with continuous awareness of their use of techniques, helping them to gain control in every possible scenario.
BeneTalk also records performance history to allow users to track their improvement in an app since self-reflection is a critical aspect of the therapy. This also helps build the motivation to maintain improvements in speech technique control away from the clinic.
Although BeneTalk can work as a stand-alone solution, the generated data can be shared with an SLT, so the clinician is able to follow the user’s progress, removing the need to produce ‘self-reports’ during therapy sessions. Based on that objective data, the SLT is able to quickly identify both appropriate and inappropriate physiological patterns. The therapy program can then be adjusted to meet the needs of that specific client.
Finally, BeneTalk records anonymous discretionary physiological data to generate a pool of information to be used to scientifically understand the mechanisms behind chronic stuttering. BeneTalk therefore acts at three levels to help people who stutter: directly on the user, through objective feedback, and by enabling big data research on the physiology of stuttering.
You can read more about BeneTalk here.
 Bercow J. Bercow Ten Years On Report: An independent review of provision for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs in England, 2018.
 Davidson Thompson T. A Survey of Practice of Speech and Language Therapists who Work with People who Stutter: University of East Anglia, 2010.
 Conelea, C. A., Rice, K. A., & Woods, D. W. (2006). Regulated breathing as a treatment for stuttering: A review of the empirical evidence.
 Blomgren, M. (2013). Behavioral treatments for children and adults who stutter: a review.
 Stankiewicz, B., Zieliński, K., Darowski, M., et al. (2015). EtCO2-Based Biofeedback Method of Breath Regulation Increases Speech Fluency of Stuttering People.