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Alecto Baby

What if your child’s favorite plush toy could speak? Now it can, thanks to Alecto Baby and text to speech from ReadSpeaker.

The Challenge

Kids dream about their stuffed animals coming to life. Knowing this, infant-care brand Alecto Baby imagined a way to make this childhood dream come true. The brand began developing the HeeHee smart button, a small wireless speaker that would attach to a plush toy—and make the plushie say anything a parent types.

The only question was how. Voice recordings were too limiting. A recording/playback feature for parents would be a great start—but it wouldn’t give a plushie its own voice. Alecto Baby serves a global market, so the HeeHee would need to speak multiple languages. Alecto Baby’s engineers would have to solve these challenges to bring the power of speech to the cuddly masses.

The Solution

Device-Embedded Text to Speech

Text to speech (TTS) was the key to making HeeHee work. Alecto Baby reached out to ReadSpeaker for the ideal voice solution: a TTS software development kit, or SDK, loaded with some of the industry’s best TTS voices. (Alecto Baby chose the most adorable voices, of course.)

With the ReadSpeaker speechEngine SDK embedded on HeeHee smart buttons, there’s no need for cloud-based tools. Parents simply connect via Bluetooth, type dialogue into a mobile app, and out comes speech: Cue childhood delight.

Global TTS for Global Markets

To ensure perfect pronunciation, you need a separate TTS voice for each language. At launch, HeeHee supported English, Dutch, French, and German—with plans to expand into Spanish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, and Swedish soon. ReadSpeaker offers more than 115 top-quality TTS voices in over 40 languages, with more on the way. That makes ReadSpeaker the ideal partner for an international brand like Alecto Baby.

And with R&D centers in the Netherlands, Sweden, and Korea, ReadSpeaker’s speech scientists are never too far away—including from Hong Kong, where the HeeHee is manufactured. That geographical advantage helped to create a smooth collaboration, said Dorette van den Elsen, product design engineer for Alecto Baby.

“We were very happy with ReadSpeaker: The conversation, the quick replies, all the TTS examples,” van den Elsen said. “The experience was very good.”

The HeeHee smart button is available today, in select stores or online.

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