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Want your loved ones to talk to you from beyond the grave? Technology's not quite there yet, says AT&T, but the best thing to do is record as much as you can of their voice, in as good a setting and as high res as plausible....

Can I use my own voice?

Not in AT&T Natural Voices™.

The reasons for wanting customized voices are varied. Some people just think it would be cool. Some are losing their voices due to a medical condition or upcoming surgery and would like to have their own synthetic voice rather than a generic one. Some people have audio tapes of a late loved one. (See the reference to ModelTalker in the section on Assistive Technologies below that may be useful for people soon to lose their voices.)

Creating high-quality voices requires a good voice talent, a sound-proof room, professional audio equipment, hours of written material with thorough coverage of phoneme combinations in the language, and the time and expertise to turn those recordings into a decent synthetic voice. Because of the expense involved, custom voice builds are usually done for corporations that want to computerize an existing actor's voice, for example to continue a brand image.

Since even professional actors reading well-chosen material don't always synthesize well, another possibility is to get the highest quality recordings possible, and as much of it as possible. Keep the recordings in a safe place until the technology improves for transforming one voice to sound like another. It may take far less material to build a tranformation model than it does to build a TTS voice from scratch. Eventually it may be possible to take a good TTS voice that is roughly similar (e.g. mid-pitch-range male, same accent) and morph it to sound like the desired person.

From research.att.com.


Jul. 31st, 2012 07:58 am (UTC)
Do you know about Roger Ebert?
On a slight tangent, are you familiar with what Roger Ebert, well-known movie critic (he won a Pulitzer!) did when his throat was damaged by cancer and surgery? After years of scribbled notes and whiteboard writings, which slow conversation down to a dribble, he commmissioned a voice database using recordings of his own voice. Fortunately, having hosted a review show, Siskel & Ebert, for years, there were ample recordings to draw from.

Using samples, the company was able to make a program so he could type and have his words be "spoken" by a computer in a close approximation of what he used to sound like. It's really quite amazing and was no doubt very expensive.

Of course, it's no replacement for having actual speech back, but he's quite a fast typist... After he lost his own voice, he threw himself into writing not just reviews, but journals, books, blogs, forums, etc. I can find you a few links if you'd like.

In other news, I still can't sleep. Fucking hell. I only slept about three or four hours last night... I think the muscle I somehow pulled in my neck is the biggest problem; it makes lying down painful. Of course, I could take the damn Flexeril muscle relaxants, but screw it -- I'd rather be awake than unpleasantly zonked and still not really awake.

Whine, whine, whine... Maybe some cheese would go good with that?


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