Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Fitter, Happier, More Productive - 'Text To Speech'

I think I'll try to erase the last couple of days from my memory. They have mostly consisted of vile sickness, stomach cramps, coughing and me frequently asking my husband to “just shoot me now!”. Nope, I wasn't at Glastonbury, I have had a virus and a summer cold, one after the other. Today is the first time I have felt like blogging.


Now, if you ever have the misfortune to loose your voice or are too shy to talk to someone using your own voice (?) why not try the voices of Crystal, Alberto, Audrey or Clara via the nifty 'text – to – speech' website created by AT&T research labs and totally free to use (no downloads) http://public.research.att.com/~ttsweb/tts/demo.php


I used it yesterday when my husband went to the shop to buy me some ice lollies (only food I can currently eat) and I needed to ask him to get me some more tissues so I typed in my request and rang him up. He said it was one of the weirdest calls he ever received maybe that was not only because he had a computer talking to him but also that I used a mans voice (couldn’t help myself) and he could hear me chuckling in the background but overall, I did achieve my goal, more tissues and a freaked out husband.

Here’s what it sounded like:



request.wav - Chalky


One thing I did note, AT&T have put up a notice saying “numbers in the text are randomized

to discourage commercial use of this demo website. For example, if you type "1 2 3" might hear "9 3 7". Might be worth considering if you're ordering pizza or getting the local fire service round.


At this stage in the post I think I should add that I was once the voice of the MOT helpline in the UK -what a claim to fame! "Thank you for calling the VI helpline, your call has been logged" "Your car is green", " I'm sorry, please would you repeat that".

I am still jealous of the Speaking Clock.


So all this then led me to think of songs where similar 'computer voices' are used and the first to spring to mind was Radiohead's 'Fitter Happier'.



Fitter Happier - Radiohead


So I took the first few lines of the song:

Fitter, happier, more productive, comfortable, not drinking too much
Regular exercise at the gym, 3 days a week

and wanted to know whether I could recreate the same sound using this AT&T research lab software. The results were pretty funny; my favorite being Alberto followed closely by a very 'Kraftwerk sounding Klara'. Why not try it out yourself.


Text to Speech has also been very helpful if not a life line to many people in the world, one person that stands out is the physicist Stephen Hawking. I once attended a lecture of his at the Royal Albert Hall in London. I will admit it was very difficult to focus on his computerized voice for an hour, the acoustics in the Albert Hall made it almost impossible to focus. Very randomly I also saw Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) at this event.


Think I'm ready for my nap now.

Speak soon :-)

Chalky

P.S. Weekly round up will have to wait.

2 comments:

Cookiemouse said...

Summer colds can be horrible. I've just got over mine. I hope you get well soon. They can really drag you down. So here's wishing you lots of strength and a rapid recovery.

chalky said...

Thanks Cookiemouse, voice is starting to return but very slooowly

 
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