Say Hello to Q, the Voice Assistant That Has No Gender

Moving away from gender-centric roles has never sounded so good.
Fabienne Lang

It would be surprising if a voice assistant responded in a voice that sounded neither male nor female. It could make you wonder what a genderless voice may sound like. Since March of this year, you can actually hear such a voice.

Q is the first genderless voice.

What is the purpose? To end gender bias, that is created by voice assistants. 

The voice assistant was unveiled earlier this year, with the hope that it would be added to devices and used as a voice assistant, much like Alexa or Siri. But since then, what's happened to this goal? 


Gender stereotypes

Since smart devices have come out, we've all known that the options of selecting a voice are, either a male or a female one. Research has shown that these are gender-centric options.

Male voices, known for being more assertive, are typically selected to give directions, whereas female ones are chosen for more assistive tasks.

These are considered old fashioned gender stereotypes, and the creators of Q wanted to put an end to them. 

Why was Q invented?

"One of our big goals with Q was to contribute to a global conversation about gender, and about gender and technology and ethics, and how to be inclusive for people that identify in all sorts of different ways," said Julie Carpenter, an expert in human behavior and emerging technologies, who worked on creating Project Q.

Q's voice was developed by a team of researchers, sound designers, and linguists, along with Copenhagen Pride week organizers, and technology leaders. 

The team recorded dozens of voices: female, male, transgender, and nonbinary. However, the team's sound designer decided to work on just one voice, tweaking it so that it became gender-neutral. 

Then, they sent the voice to over 4,500 participants, who helped to select the most gender-neutral voice. 

Q's creators' said this about the voice assistant is: "Q represents a future where we are no longer defined by the gender binary, but rather by our own definitions of gender, as we live and experience them."

When Q was launched, the team stated that they were working on launching Q as an open-source AI for voice assistants within the year.

So far, there have been no updates on this, but we're keeping a watchful eye. 

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