This is a post from todays guest blogger: Daniel Erkstam, Nordic Sales Director for VoiceCorp. Two robots The pictures shows two robots. The left one is an industrial robot from ABB that probably is used to build cars or something similar. The right one is one of the most advanced AI robots that can be found today. It is possible to converse with it and it is very human like. Both robots serve their purpose and do it well. And it is the same with speech syntheses. When we launched the first speaking web services back in 2001 the only available voices was very robotic ones and became kind of boring listening to on longer texts. Today we use voices made in a complete different technique and the quality become closer and closer to recorded speech. But the thing is that the older voices is still used by a lot of people and is even preferred compared to the newer ones for some purposes. For example people with visual impairment often prefer the older voices for screen-reading software’s like Jaws. The reason is that the older voices are more consequent on how they read the text and you can get used to the odd and robotic character of the voice. The older voices also read out the text in a more detailed way. The voices we use today are a lot more human like but also more “forgiving” when it comes to spelling errors and some words from foreign languages etc. The secret behind that is many times bigger database with the phonemes. We know that the smaller need a person have for a synthetic speech, the harder judge he/she will be. We who doesn’t have reading difficulties or visual impairment can see/read the text and compare that to the voice speaking. Then we react on every little slight error in the pronouncing by the synthesis. We put a lot of effort to make the reading as good as possible by making a lot of customizations so that the speech syntheses pronounce the current website’s vocabulary as good as possible. Because we know that there is a strong connection between how good it sounds and how many people that will use the service. Back to the robots again: They might both serve their purposes well. But I guess it would be an easy choice which one you would pick to serve visitors at the reception desk, right?