Friday, August 3

Text-to-Speech for Mediators

Lately I have been experimenting with text-to-speech software to work out if it has any potential for my practice.

Originally, my aim was to get a machine to do my on screen heavy lifting - especially reading those dense PDF academic articles.

The free TTS application I use is called Natural Reader and it reads directly from MS Word, Outlook, the Internet, PDF files etc. This is important because some applications make you cut from the article and paste into the TTS application.

But there's more for the mediator. Text-to-Speech can;

1. read email or articles to you

2. read articles to your colleagues and clients when you send the sound file to them - I'm experimenting to see if clients would prefer sound files of my standard premediation documents (I don't think they do).

3. have your computer read a long article to itself while you are out, then download it to your iPod and listen to it later when you are driving home.

4. have your computer sit in your chair at the head of the table and read your opening to the parties, allowing you to come in late and maybe injecting more life into it than you on your 1625th mediation... the possibilities are endless.

Two of the most popular TTS applications are;

NaturalSoft (free and $ versions) Demo here

TextAloud (link is suspect - but it has free and $ versions)

And
TTS voices have come a long way in the last few years. Try these; Mike Crystal Audrey (again these links seem to work then not work)

Don't like the way they sound? - plenty more here plus all manner of languages available.

Crikey!... there's even an Australian drawl

3 comments:

Tammy Lenski said...

Hey, Geoff, I like the new look of the blog!

Can you tell us a bit more about the text-to-speech program you're presently trying...how long did it take to set up, geek level, accuracy, etc?

I've stayed away from them because I haven't found any that really deliver on their promise, but I haven't looked again in a while and would appreciate your useability comments. Thanks!

Geoff Sharp said...

Thanks Tammy,

TTS is simply reading text out loud so no need to train it...I think you may be referring to voice recognition software(like Dragon Dictate which I have used on and off for the last 5 years). I will create a post using Dragon and talk a little about my experience with the latest version (v9)as soon as I get a chance.

Ken White said...

Good link for TextAloud is
http://www.nextup.com

Whole bunch of voices available at
http://nextup.com/TextAloud/SpeechEngine/voices.html