I’ve been a big fan of applications that can convert text to speech for a long time. From time to time, I like to go find new programs that do this to see how the progression of the technology is going.
When writers are composing their posts, or articles, however the information is being composed, it’s not always exactly what they were thinking, or it may not sound exactly as they think it does.
Being able to convey information or your thoughts properly is a very powerful skill. People don’t consider it, but it really is.
The progression and development of these types of programs are fascinating. The early versions of video games were very crude and they sounded like computers, but they’ve gotten much better.
Take for instance a program called TextAloud [free trial available] that can convert text to speech very easily.
The interface is actually very simple. The program utilizes computer voices that are already installed on the Windows system. Utilizing those voices, it’s able to convert text to speech and the information is played back through the computer’s sound system.
The use of the application is not intrusive. Once the application is started, it sits in the system tray, waiting for a hotkey to be pressed, or the application can be set up to monitor the clipboard; any new text copied to the clipboard would automatically be read.
The sound output of the application can be exported to an MP3. This type of technology would be very useful in situations where you might be traveling, or you simply want to download a website article and listen to it on your MP3 player, but the obvious application would be for persons with disabilities; like persons with severe dyslexia.
I’ve used proofreading applications for years. Being able to have the information that you just wrote it back to you, by someone else, makes a big difference. You get to hear the words and information in a different context. It’s in a more objective view of the information you’re presenting.
Microsoft Windows Vista comes with a single voice that is much better than anything that was provided previously. It’s a woman’s voice, it’s rendered fairly well, but it still has the computer twang to it; it’s obvious it’s a computer voice.
But as the technology has progressed the quality of the voices have gotten much better and computer voices can be downloaded from several different locations.
Using it as a reference, the nextup.com as a section of various different providers and samples of computer voices. There’s lots of listings and you can click on each of the voices to see how the voices sound and how they perform.
While the development of the voices have been outstanding, there’s always going to be certain words that are not used or pronounced correctly. Typically programs like TextAloud have the ability to edit the pronunciation of certain words.
For instance, let’s say the computer is reading a paragraph of a technical nature that requires saying the acronym URL. It’s hard for a program to understand the concept of pronouncing an acronym. So the correction is that you select that particular word, edit the pronunciation, so the program will pronounce it correctly in the future.
URL = U R L
you are el
Keeping in mind that you really shouldn’t be making a time of changes in pronunciation of how the information is read, but based upon how you speak and how you want information to sound, you can customize the pronunciation of a lot of words and even phrases.
Here’s a video:
I used TextAloud in this post as an example, but there are other programs that do exactly the same thing, roughly the same cost, but not forgetting there are options that are free.
I think this technology is very valuable and could be very helpful to people that are trying to save time, make sure their compositions sound better, or simply may need it as a form of personal assistance.
If you use this, do you think this helps you do better?
L. Henry Jr.