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Artifical voices that are natural
updated by rck, 2005-10-15

The American Telephone and Telegraph Company -- better known as AT&T -- has a natural affinity to voice-transmissions. It comes to no surprise that a company with telephony-roots would encourage and sponsor the developement of a high-quality, artificial voice system.

Still, listening to the Natural Voices demos is quite amazing anyway. Except for minor glitches, Natural Voices intoniation is first class. What's even more amazing: I like the german speech better than the english one. It sounds even more natural to me.

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This is the Natural Voices banner from their website
Official Banner
Why would one want artificial speech? There are a couple of applications for it. I for example had been programming an IVR a few years ago. You know, that phone-based computers that ask to press 1, then 5, then do something funny.

We used to use conserved-speech, this was possible because we didn't have too much variations in our output. Then again, sampling for example all Austrian cities would be quite an effort. And it's almost inpossible to sample all the street names of Austria, let alone the world. Think car-navigation.

Is it any good?

You bet it is! I played around with it and came up with two examples. Like mentioned in the initial summary, I like the german one more. Still, the US one is also very convincing. I didn't like the UK ones that much.

androids.mp3(4722): It is amazing, what A T & T managed to do. The quality of the A T & T Labs Text To Speech program is awesome. I think that this system would be perfect for Androids.

wetter.mp3(4576): Ob das Wetter gut wird oder nicht hängt in erster Linie vom Wetter ab! Dennoch kann dank moderner Computer-Technik oft vorhergesagt werden, wie das Wetter sein wird. Um einen ersten Eindruck vom heutigen, morgigen und übermorgigen Wetter zu bekommen, bietet sich das Wetter-Modul vom Konfabulator an.

Further reading

AT&T Natural Voices (take care, the site doesn't look too good in Firefox. Apparently, the validation warnings have either been ignored or there wasn't any HTML validation involved at all)

I found the site via
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