Friday, September 26, 2008

Text to Speech

I have gotten interested in Text to Speech after reviewing a sample application provided by Microsoft. The Sam voice that is installed with XP is very poor. You can try out the voice by going to the control panel and clicking on Speech.

Microsoft released two additional voices that are much better. You can download them from this link http://www.text-speech.com/voices/Sp5TTIntXP.msi After they are installed, you will find Mike and Mary available in the speech control panel. These two are much better than the default SAM voice.

I understand that Vista has a new speech voice named Anna. I tried her on one of the office computers and she sounds pretty good.

There are several commercial TTS (text to speech) engine providers. Cepstral has good voices. You can demo them at http://www.cepstral.com/demos/ Their voices are around $30.00.

Nextup has demos of the AT&T voices at http://www.nextup.com/attnv.html The AT&T voices cost $35.00.

I am now working on adding TTS support in the Message Client and will then move to the map. Instead of having dedicated wave files, it would be nice if it could simplay say "A tornado warning as been issued for Tallapoosa County until 10:30 PM". The map would have the bonus to saying expiration messages.

It would also be very simple to add the capability to read a message in the text window. I was playing with this earlier tonight and it works well using the Mike voice. I was surprised how well it could say some county names.

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