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Veddy British August 26, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Apps, Operating System.
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It’s always been a sci-fi conceit to have the computer talk with a perfect, natural-sounding speaking voice, and so far all we’ve had are the usual halting, phoneme-mangling robotic voices built into the operating system. There hasn’t yet been the smooth, soothing menace of HAL, the business-like LCARS computer voice of the Starship Enterprise, or the prissy Brit butler accent of C3PO. Instead we get Vicki, Bruce or Zarvox.

At least one company has been trying hard to accomplish this difficult feat, and they’re closer to it as anyone has been, and that’s Infovox iVox, from the Acapela Group and AssistiveWare. They have been providing wonderful voices, in many languages, for use with any software compliant with Mac OS X’s Speech Manager, like TextEdit, Preview or Adobe Acrobat, or even Tiger’s VoiceOver screen reader feature. Notable in iVox are the Lucy and Graham voices, which eerily sound like something you’d hear from a spaceship computer.

Well, the company is releasing a new British voice named Peter, which I imagine would sound real cool when it tells you the hour on the hour. This will be in addition to the many existing accented voices ranging from American to Flemish (eh?). Peter is included in the British voice pack which sells for 99 Euros. Existing owners get Peter as a free upgrade.

If you’re curious, there’s a fully functioning demo available here.

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