An animation studio that worked on the Black Skinhead music video for rapper Kanye West has won the first order for its language system, which teaches students how to pronounce words.
Speech Graphics, which was spun out from Edinburgh University in 2010, used MRI scans of people’s mouths to create videos of how people form words.
Language learning website Saundz has now used the company’s technology to create “Simone”, an online tutor that students can watch to learn where to place their tongues to pronounce words.
Speech Graphics, which has also worked with film producers including Warner Bros, developed its technique for computer games.
Chief executive Gregor Hofer said: “Hearing a language spoken does not tell you what to do inside your own mouth to mimic the sounds made. Animation reveals the movement of tongue, palate, teeth, jaw and lips so language students can see the mechanics of pronunciation.”
Mark Bruk, managing director of Saundz, added: “Learning a language is one thing, but learning pronunciation is another altogether. Someone learning a second language has to acquire patterns of behaviour.”
The teaching firm is targeting the estimated two billion people in China, India, Japan and Russia who speak English as a second language.
The video to Black Skinhead, the debut single from the Yeezus album, was directed by Nick Knight and featured an animated version of West, with the lip-synching provided by Speech Graphics.