Machine Language: Inside The Art Of Making Computers Talk

shockleewebpic_makingcomputerstalkfEver wonder how computer voices and speech recognition technology are developed? Watch this insightful short film on the art of how many of these synthetic voices are created, how they’ve developed throughout the years and get an inside look at a studio session at Nuance, one of the biggest companies in the field [and the rumored Siri creators].

Robo-voices not withstanding, the promise of text-to-speech has been evident since the dawn of personal computing — Apple even offered a text-to-speech reader in the first Mac. But it was the widespread adoption of mobile technologies and the internet that really fired up the demand for voices. The ability to access information, hands free, is a tantalizing proposition, particularly when coupled with speech recognition technology….

J. Brant Ward, the senior director of advanced speech design and development at Nuance, is a former composer who went from writing string quartets on synthesizers to composing speech using synthetic voices. He’s been working in the Silicon Valley TTS industry for over a decade.

Nuance is one of the biggest independent speech recognition and text-to-speech companies in the world. [Speech recognition is a bit like the reverse of text-to-speech — the computer hears what you’re saying, and converts it into text.] The company does many things, including supplying the healthcare industry with voice-enabled clinical documentation, meaning doctors can speak rather than type in their notes. It also develops voice recognition and text-to-speech capabilities for everything from tablets to cars.

Ward and the company’s senior design lead, David Vazquez, are part of the team working out of Nuance’s Sunnyvale, CA offices creating next-generation synthetic voices. They describe their work as “part art, part science.”

The text-to-speech industry is extremely competitive, and highly secretive. Even though it’s universally believed that Nuance created the voice of Apple’s talking personal digital assistant, Siri, Ward, and Vazquez coyly change the subject when asked.

h/t: the verge

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