Text to Speech (TTS) Technology
Have you ever used Alexa or Siri to help you find information, directions, or news? If you have, then most likely you have heard a synthesized voice that is the main speaker who does not reply. When you listen to text-to-speech content, it’s easy to understand what the voice is telling you - but you’ve never missed out on a generated voice.
We understand artificial sounds like Siri and Alexa because they speak our language even when they are translating from other languages. But with so much advancement in technology, especially in the voice-over and narration industry, why can't Siri make a more human voice?
The answer is complicated and it involves not only technology but also the innate sensitivity between “near-human” figures and voices. The 10 best pieces of text to speech software have many different uses that allow you to create content more efficiently than just making it easier on the computer.
Learning more about Text to Speech (TTS) technology and how it is improving can help you understand both what's happening in this emerging market and how you can potentially use TTS to your benefit.
What is Text to Speech?
TTS allows your device to read you aloud from digital text. TTS is ideal for people who struggle with reading or labeling certain items on the screen. It is often used for emerging readers or learners who need additional support, but is almost universally available and supported on devices around the world.
Speaking of TTS, it is an artificial voice or conversational AI without emotion or excitement; This is not a statement of performance. Humans have a particularly dull awareness of speech and most of us can choose synthetic voices when we are used to them. Conversational intelligence can relay facts, directions, information, and reminders, but it is not very good at expressing the meaning of a subtext or apart.
Even the most passionate prose and poetry lose their sparkle when read by the conversational AI. So why not move on to a less synthetic AI voice - one that embraces real emotions? The answer may surprise you and include real, but often misunderstood emotions arising from “near-human” interactions, with some versions becoming slightly more real and provoking feelings of discomfort and unease in the audience (more on this later).
How does Text to Speech work?
The TTS engine converts written text into a phonemic presentation which is then converted into a waveform sent as sound. A TTS engine is compatible with most personal devices, from smartphones to laptops, tablets, and readers. TTS can read documents, web pages, books, and more, making it a flexible and useful system for providing information. As long as the text file is available, TTS can read aloud.
In some cases, the words will be highlighted on the screen as they are read; It often seems to be designed for educational purposes in TTS. The synthetic sound used is generated by a computer and there is no lack of emotion or emphasis. Optical character recognition helps support TTS tools and can also ensure that paragraphs are being read correctly and accurately. Finally, the listener is provided with a straightforward reading of the text without any insight into the meaning of the text, which is usually reflected in the narrator's manner of speech.
What is Text to Speech used for?
TTS is used in various industries, in education and training, and even in entertainment and daily life. If you asked Google or Siri to read something to you while you were doing another task, you don't know if you used TTS and conversational intelligence. TTS and other technologies, including NTP and NLU, can be used to create a conversational AI that engages and supports various applications and settings.
TTS works better for some applications than others. It is not particularly useful for video applications, video game dialogs, or audio-books as the voice is flat and unable to express emotions. When performance is needed or emotion needs to be expressed, the human narrator is a great option.
To define words, to create scratch videos during production, and to provide services or support, TTS is a natural match. In education, small sections of artificial narrative can be very clear and useful in such cases if additional support is required or when training adults. When this type of narration is heard over and over again or for a long period, it can be unengaging to some and perhaps even a little annoying. Nonetheless, TTS is great for delivering information when using apps like Alexa, Google, and Siri.
Barriers to TTS development
TTS is already very useful, but it's not ready for prime time yet. Due to a lack of emotion, TTS usually only plays a relatively minor supporting role in creating entertainment - often as a placeholder until the actual audio of a media project or game is completed.
There are several barriers to developing a TTS voice; Both technical and social. There are challenges in carrying out sophisticated artificial intelligence enough to create a smooth and conversationally synthesized voice and still recognize when to create emotion. When it comes to overcoming technological barriers, there is also the human caution of “almost-human” synthetics that are hard to move.
Called the "fantastic valley," this warranty is a reaction to what appears to be a robot or human-like AI posing as a human. As robotics or CGI become more humane in sound or form, they attract more of your knowledge because you notice familiar symptoms that “humanize” and awaken feelings of identity. But this was only to a certain point. Once a human-type object or sound looks like a real man but imperfectly looks like an actual human being, it begins to arouse feelings of curiosity and rebellion. Neurological research has shown that some people are more sensitive about the crazy valley than others, but virtually all of us believe in a synthetic face or voice that is a little human, not being human.
Human-voiced conversational intelligence can be a bit good in this regard, sometimes creating a final product that listeners have described as frightening as a result of the unusual valley. This result can erode the listener's confidence in the brand or information the user is receiving using TTS, so imposing some barriers to perfection can benefit the technology so that an unusual valley effect does not occur.
Where TTS stands today
TTS is a lifeline for some users who would otherwise not be able to read or understand written content but are not ready for e-learning content using voice-over. TTS isn’t emotional enough to use entertainment content, but it can be a great time saver for processes like voice-over data collection and scratch audio and a way to reduce costs and inefficiencies. By compiling voice data through our extensive linguistic network, And-over is also at the forefront of making TTS more useful - even without the extraordinary consequences.
Learn more about the right voice for your project or brand - and find out where TTS can be used for support and where human voice-over is best. We can help you determine what you need for your next e-learning project using your technology to meet your next needs. Get in touch today to learn more or find out what our solution might make a difference for your brand.