Overview Those of
you who are familiar with the popular science fiction TV series “Star
Trek” have already been introduced to the basic concepts of speech
synthesis and voice recognition. On that TV series, characters spoke to
the central computer and the computer spoke back. Today, however, most
voice recognition software can only take dictation. It cannot comprehend
words or their meaning. The ability to speak into a microphone and have
your PC generate accurate text or recognize voice commands is the goal of
current voice recognition software. Speech synthesis is the creation of
speech from text through the use of your PC. Many new developments in
digital speech technology, such as universal translators and truly dynamic
voice recognition software, may be just on the horizon.
General Information Speech
synthesis and voice recognition are both relatively new digital sound
technologies. Until recently, digital speech tools were prohibitively
expensive. Communications services have used this technology for directory
services as well as e-mail and voice mail systems. Affordable speech
synthesis and recognition tools are now available to anyone with a PC and
a microphone. What is the difference between speech recognition and speech
synthesis? Visit the Webopedia.com site to read their definitions of “voice
recognition” and “speech
synthesis”. Links to additional digital sound information can
also found on these pages. Another good source of information about
digital speech is the Speech
and Sound Links page. Here you can find links to sites that deal
with speech synthesis and recognition, sound analysis, and digital audio
formats. An extensive list of FAQs is available at www.speech.cs.cmu.edu/comp.speech.
Digital speech software tools, complete with descriptions and links to the
manufacturers’ home pages, are available for download at www.speechandhearing.net/laboratory/tools.html.
Resources Synthesized voice of the past sounded mechanical and
unnatural. Today, speech synthesis sounds more natural, due to the wide
choice of voice types, cadence, and accents. Speech synthesis information,
including more than 500 links, is available at www.speech.cs.cmu.edu.
Links to speech synthesis and recognition resources can be found on this Speech
Web Sites page. Speech synthesis utilities can be downloaded from this
Web page. You’ll find both shareware and freeware programs
included there. ModelTalker synthesizer, a modern speech synthesis program
developed by the Speech Research Lab, is available for download at www.asel.udel.edu/speech/ModelTalker.html.
Samples of synthesized speech generated by ModelTalker are available on
this page as well. These synthesized speech samples will provide you with
examples of the different features to be considered when using speech
Resources Speech recognition software was first developed for PCs to
perform tasks that include word processing and the execution of simple
commands. Early versions of these programs were clumsy and unreliable.
With each update in this type of software, there is an improvement in the
accuracy of dictation. Newer software programs have more leeway for
different accents, speeds, and voices. To browse resources, including FAQs,
links, job postings, and discussion forums, visit the Commercial Speech
Recognition page at www.speechstudio.com/commercial/speech.htm.
Another broad-ranging resource is the Yahoo!
Voice Recognition page. Here you can find links to software,
articles, and tutorials. Speech recognition forums for both PC and Mac
users can be accessed at this VoiceRecognition.com
page. If you are looking for software that can add voice recognition
capabilities to your word processor, then visit or www.nuance.com/naturallyspeaking.
Additional Links What
is the future of speech synthesis and voice recognition technology? Visit HowStuffWorks.com
to learn about a universal language translator that is being developed.
Additionally, you can read about and listen to AT&T Labs’ speech
synthesis software “Natural
Voices”--some of the most naturally sounding synthetic speech.