I met one of our TTS suppliers the other day. Lars-Erik Larsson, the CEO of Acapela Group. He told me about their latest development being a service to create corporate voices for their text-to-speech engine. The coolest thing was that they could now offer it at a very reasonable cost thanks to a new technology and procedures they have developed. The Acapela Voice Factory. and it only takes between 3 weeks(!) for the simplest version and up to 14 weeks for the full quality version! Still the cost level is not really reachable for private users, but there are other (free) alternatives as well like the FestVox with the Festival TTS platform (however you can not in any way compare the quality with the commercial solutions). With a price tag starting at 7500€ (excluding the cost of the speaker) it is really reachable for a lot of companies that want to have a corporate TTS voice that can easily pay off by using TTS in to automate some customer support, automate switchboards, or just do it as a fun thing in for example interactive web campaigns. But you would also need to buy licenses for the engine itself if you want to use it. But that is a very reasonable cost in such a project. Is there a market? Sure. Lets say we have two car manufacturer that want to integrate speech into their cars. Obviously, Volvo would not want to use the same voice as Saab for instance. You must hear the difference :-). Some companies today have a corporate voice that they use in all radio and TV commercials, and wouldn’t it be great to have that voice talent also answering the phone on 30 lines at the same time? However, if you have dreamt of immortality, this is one step closer. But if you decide to give up your voice up to a TTS engine, there are a couple of things you should be aware of.
- Your voice can technically be used to speak very dirty words and there is always the risk of people using it in a very very bad way.
- You can never really use your voice as something that identify that it is actually you. I.e. quite a problem if you also happens to be a big fan of speech verification systems…
The target group for corporate voices are mainly, well, corporations. Congratulations Acapela-Group!