Saturday, October 23, 2010

iPhone App: DAF Assistant

I refuse to shell out $4000 for the SpeechEasy, not only because it's far too expensive, but also because there is strong evidence that the device's beneficial effects eventually wear off for most of those who use it. The strongest piece of anecdotal evidence comes from that of Mark, a young man whose life was initially changed by SpeechEasy as he was thrust into instant fame by being featured on American national television on The Today Show and Oprah Winfrey (I believe). It seems that the American media was a bit hasty, however, because, to hear Mark tell it, the effects of the device began to rapidly decline until it had virtually no effect at all. He spent a fair amount of time in a depression because of the experience...thankfully, however, he eventually recovered and is now in grad school, I think. You can check out his blog in the link above.

Despite this, I was still curious, if for no other reason, because I wanted to see if the device would work for me, even if only initially, and because I wanted to feel what it is like to be fluent.

It seems Apple has come up with the solution for this. Well, not Apple, but an application designer named ARTEFACT, LLC. The application is sold in iTunes and is called DAF Assistant ($9.99!). Essentially, it operates exactly like The SpeechEasy device, absent the carefully and personally-tailored ear piece. The application offers Audio Delay from 20-320 milliseconds and Frequency Shift from tones ranging from -10 to +10 (half octave down to half octave up). You can use the application with either Bluetooth headset or a simple headset with a built-in microphone. I don't recommend the type of headset with an extended microphone, as you would look silly walking around with that on your head all day. Just buy the ones with the microphone built in to the cord that extends from the earphone itself. That way, you can even just use that one side of the earphones without having two earbuds in at the same time.

The intended effect is to "trick" the stutterer/stammerer into thinking that he or she is speaking in unison with somebody else because, for some stutterers, doing so virtually eliminates the stutter. That is the case for me. If I am reciting The Pledge of Allegiance or any other verse in unison with one or more persons, I will not stutter. Why is this so? I haven't the foggiest clue. *shrugs*

The application does work for me. When I placed the earbuds into my ears and launched the device, I immediately was able to speak freely to a friend of mine with hardly any stammering or blocks. It was a tremendous feeling and I kept talking nonstop for about 5 minutes. The small blocks I did have were almost inconsequential and I was able to get past them almost by sheer will. My settings are Delay of 140 and Frequency Shift of +3. I tried a few others and they worked nearly as well, so I can't say for sure which works the best.

The downside: As expected, not only do you hear your own voice with delayed feedback and frequency shift, but you hear everything else in the room (including your own typing) in the same manner. My friend tried it and said it would drive him crazy. It doesn't bother me all that much, simply because the benefit of fluency outweighs any noticeable distraction. If I am not talking, I do find the noise annoying, so I just take out the earbud or turn the application off. The only time I ever found it annoying (disturbing, actually) was when I suddenly laughed out loud in response to something my friend said and suddenly was subjected to a loud, high pitched, crazy-sounding laugh directly into my own ear. I immediately yanked out the earbud!

My own advice is to only use the application in instances where you will actively be participating in a conversation. If you are only going to speak occasionally, like when you are watching television with others...turn it off. The feedback will be distracting. Overall, I am very pleased with the results. The application is exceedingly inexpensive at just 99 cents and the results were/are immediate. And if they aren't for you...well, you've only lost ten bucks. :)


The Crow said...

You want to feel what it's like to be fluent?
It feels very nice. Very confident. Very easy.
But it is of almost no value, as compared to the value you expected it to have.
People don't care what you have to say. That's the awful truth that the finally-fluent ex-stutterer has to face.
It's not all bad, of course.
It's an enormous relief to be finally playing on a level field.
But you really notice things you never noticed before.

The Fool said...

and what do i find???
another crow!
now i have forgotten what i was going to say :)

Rebecca said...

Would you ever want to be stutter free for your life without a device of any kind?

Ninjagaiden78 said...

Man, I am so glad that I found your blog. I have stuttered all my life, but lately it has gotten worse. I try to use speech exercises and have learned to slow down, but I am still hampered. I am so glad to know that there are blogs like this out there.
Keep doing your thing!

Rebecca said...

kendangerpowers said...

your video with suprizing scream sound is sooo annoying.

whats the point of it?

its even funnyat all just useless
and annyoing

Rajesh Gautam said...

I am the developer of this iPhone application. Let me know if anybody wants to have access to this technology. contact me at

Jagadeesh Babu said...

Hi Rajesh Gautam,

This app is great and I bought it. But below are my concerns.

Major Drawback: This app documentation says it does support Bluetooth. But when I use it with Bluetooth, I am hearing unexpected rain like sounds and this app is not useful.

Minor But Nice Feature: I am also using DAF Professional and it can run in back ground and is a nice feature to have.


Jagadeesh Babu said...

Hi Rajesh Gautam,

This app is great and I bought it. But below are my concerns.

Major Drawback: This app documentation says it does support Bluetooth. But when I use it with Bluetooth, I am hearing unexpected rain like sounds and this app is not useful.

Minor but Nice Feature to have: I am also using DAF Professional and it can run in back ground and is a nice feature to have.


Rajesh Gautam said...

Dear Jagdish,

Thanks for your message and sorry for the issue that you are facing with blutooth. I will look into the issue and update the application in store.

BTW, which is the bluetooth device you were using?

I will soon provide the background processing as well.

Best Wishes,

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Hi Gautam,

I have tried with Plantronics bluetooth instruments below.

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