The Word KUPU #4 - Rébecca Kleinberger

A conversation about the intricacies and power of the human voice.


This week we had the wondrous Dr. Rébecca Kleinberger on the podcast, and what an absolute treat that was. Rébecca is a Research Fellow at MIT’s Media Lab and an innovation consultant for various companies and organisations, including among others, the McGovern Institute for Brain Research. Her work and research is continuously providing innovative solutions and unique insights into the study, analysis, and understanding of the human voice.

Born to two literary professors, Rébecca was raised on a farm in France. From an early age her curiosity and interest in design and building things eventually led her down a very elaborate path through the upper echelons of academia in France, the UK and the US. Her love, connection and absolute dedication to animals comes from growing up on a farm and is palpable from this discussion. She also has a connection to Aotearoa/New Zealand in that she knows how to shear a sheep and can play rugby. Deep down she really is a kiwi at heart!   

In the podcast we talk about her past and current research which really pushes the boundaries of human understanding and thought into areas of the imagination that allow her to create healthier and more meaningful technologies with and for the human voice. We touch upon her varying practical approaches to meaningful applications which include the use of AI, virtual reality, laser projected voice art, wearable technologies, robotics and more. 

If you prefer to listen to it on Spotify, here is the link:

She recently did a TED talk entitled: “Why you don’t like the sound of your own voice” which has had over 1 million views to date. 

Rébecca’s work has featured on the cover of the Financial Times Magazine and has been shown at the Museum of Fine Art in Boston, Le Laboratoire in Paris, Siggraph Art exhibition in Los Angeles, the Hacking Consciousness exhibit at the Harvard Divinity School and EMF camp in the UK. In the past she has collaborated with Microsoft Research and the Google Magenta team as well.

As part of MIT’s Opera of the Future group, Rébecca has also had her work exhibited at Maison Symphonique de Montreal, the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland and the Winspear Opera House in Dallas. She has been featured in the shows Engadget and "60 Minutes" in the US.

It was an absolute joy talking with Rébecca and I learned a lot but still have so many questions, so let’s hope we can have her on again in the near future. 

To contact and see more of her work please visit her website and MIT’s Media Lab

And visit her late great hedgehog and MIT Media Lab mascot Petit’s instagram. Rest in Peace Petit.


If any reseach outfits from Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch zoos would be willing and interested in setting up a collaboration with her ingenious “Tamagophone” research project, then please don’t hesitate to contact Rébecca.

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Mauri Ora.

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