What Is Text-To-Speech Technology and How Does It Work?

Text-to-speech technology is a form of assistive technology that enables written text to be converted into spoken words. It’s a powerful tool for individuals with visual or reading disabilities, as well as those who want to consume content on-the-go. In this article, we’ll explore what text-to-speech technology is and how it works.

How Does TTS Work?

Computers and other devices can use text-to-speech (TTS) technology to “speak” printed text aloud. Thanks to advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence, this technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated and is being used in a wide range of areas, from accessibility to virtual assistants.

Text Analysis Mechanism

The process of converting written material into spoken words consists of three main parts: a text analysis mechanism, a pronunciation mechanism, and a speech synthesis mechanism. The text analysis mechanism is responsible for reading the written text and breaking it down into individual words, punctuation marks, and capital letters. It also looks at the structure of the text to determine the best way to read it, for example, when to pause, when to emphasize certain sentences, and when to change the tone of voice.

Check Punctuation

The pronunciation mechanism determines the pronunciation of each word according to pre-programmed rules. This involves looking up each word in the database and comparing it with the correct pronunciation, taking into account the text’s language, dialect, and context. For example, the word “read” pronunciation differs depending on whether it is used as a verb or a noun.

Speech Synthesis Engine

The speech synthesis engine generates a sound file from the pronounced words based on the analyzed text and the associated pronunciation data. Speech synthesis can be performed in several ways, such as formant, synthetic, and statistical parametric. Statistical parametric synthesis is the most commonly used nowadays, where new speech is generated by training a machine learning model on a large speech data corpus.

Challenges And Progress

Text-to-speech software sometimes produces artificial or robotic-sounding speech, which is a potential drawback. This can be a problem when the listener expects human-like speech, for example, when using a chatbot or a virtual customer service assistant. However, as TTS technology develops, this problem is diminishing.

Modern TTS systems can produce almost human speech with correct pronunciation, natural intonation, correct stresses, and pauses. TTS technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated and efficient thanks to machine learning and artificial intelligence advances. Text-to-speech technology is not only used in accessible applications but also many other areas, such as virtual assistants and language learning software.

Conclusion

In conclusion, text-to-speech technology is useful for transforming written material into spoken language. It now produces speech that resembles human speech in terms of accuracy, intonation, and correct pronunciation, which is very different from the robotic and unnatural-sounding speech of the past. Applications of this technology include accessibility, virtual assistants, chatbots for customer service, and language learning tools. The technology will continue to evolve as machine learning and artificial intelligence develop and will become an indispensable tool for many industries in the coming years.