It’s not that far fetched an idea to suggest that computers with text to speech and talking avatar capabilities may one day put an end to the voice over artist. Radio stations around the world are already replacing radio presenters with automation and voice tracking. A computer can take care of all the tasks a DJ can do, such as playing the music, firing off jingles, hitting the news on time and even making a cup of coffee! So, why not use a computer as your station voice? I may be doing myself out of a job… but look at some of the great websites and technologies that already exist.
Free Text to Speech
AT&T have a great free text to speech radio jingle generator. You can play with the different voices and create something that sounds quite realistic in various languages and accents. You can use the website as much as you’d like as long as it’s for private, non-commercial use. Here’s a demo radio jingle I mixed up using text to speech:
The problem with text to speech is that you can’t direct the voice as you can with a real, live voice over talent. It’s always going to sound very monotone and sometimes the sound produced just doesn’t feel right. You can’t ask for “a longer pause there” or “more enthusiasm on that word”.
There are many other uses for text to speech or speech to text software. Google, for example, has started to roll out vocal recognition for their mobile apps. I’ve installed the Google Mobile App on my Nokia and I’m surprised at the accuracy of the vocal recognition feature. You can speak whole sentences into the search giant with near 100% accuracy. I can imagine a day we’ll call our mobile phone customer care line and, instead of getting transferred to a call centre in India, we will speak with a computer with advanced speech recognition software.
Another great website that provides talking avatars that convert text to speech so that you can have a talking website character is SitePal. It’s amazing what you can do with this neat technology. It’s like having a real person on the front of your website to welcome your visitor in and guide them around. Avatars could well be voice over stars of the future!