Sunday, July 19

Text-to-Speech to Enjoying Traffic Jams!

Do you experience traffic jams? YES!
Do you curse at other 'Monkey' drivers? YES!
Do you feel like beating the 'Beep' out of them? YES!
Do you listen to the radio hoping for the right song? YES!
Do you spend more than 1 hour traveling on the road every day? YES!
Do you feel that you are wasting your time? YES!
Do you prefer just listening to music (to relax and chill!)? YES!
Do you have an iPod or MP3 player? YES!

Why waste so much time basically doing nothing while getting annoyed in traffic jams. Some people could potentially have learned enough to get a degree while stuck countless hours in traffic jams. Besides downloading audio books and lectures from tons of amazing sites (Click here for starters!), you could also convert your text files into MP3 files (or on-the-fly) using text-to-speech converters. In the past they sounded robotic and horrible! But they are getting better, and some of the free tools today are not bad.

I used to hate getting stuck in traffic jams, but now I am instead enjoying them listening to world class lectures (e.g. downloaded or streaming) on my IPod, including Nobel Laureates sharing their vast knowledge, skills and experiences. Not only do I forget about the traffic jams in front of me, I am learning from amazing people, and most of these amazing learning resources are available for free (e.g. Open Educational Resources). In other words, sometimes I hope that the traffic jams would continue for a few more minutes, so that I can complete the lecture that I am listening to.

And now with improving text-to-speech converters, we can convert juicy articles that we don't have time to otherwise read. The only minor problem is that the best text-to-speech converters are still not free.

vozMe is an interesting text-to-speech converter that is free and requires hardly any learning time to master. However, it would have been wonderful if it had more options in terms of speakers (e.g. Sean Connery) and that it could sound more natural. Also, if it had enabled us to upload files (or a desktop version) to convert them, now that would be wonderful.

If only Google could have had a good text-to-speech converter embedded to their Google Docs
(or any of their tools), now then I would finally be impressed with them. To me, that is one of the missing links for Google to be truly accessible to all. Anyway, I am pretty sure Google will provide such services soon, and then the commercial tools would need to react, and finally we all will benefit, and create a better learning world for all.

Also, if we could also have a good free speech-to-text converter, now then I would probably create my own traffic jams to finish off my work in peace. Imagine driving writing (I mean narrating!) your blog posts and then searching Google by telling it verbally to synthesize some information regarding instructional design, which you want to include in the post. Better yet, Google reads your mind (waves) to speed up the process.

Finally, we are working 24 hours a day, and have no time for family or a holiday. Hm, that does not sound so wonderful. I Need to go home, but while driving why not enjoy...


Here are a few FREE text-to-speech tools to get you started (Warning: They usually offer a commercial version or upgrade option, too):
  • vozMe
    A free gadget you can add to your website to add text to speech functionality. Also, it enables you easily to convert your text files into MP3 files with a few clicks. It is online and free.

  • Jott
    It converts your voice into emails, text messages, reminders, lists and appointments.

  • iSpeech
    Convert any text to speech with iSpeech. Its' text to speech (TTS) Web service is being used in many markets including e-learning, education, websites, media, mobile applications, weblogs, and more.

  • TTSReader
    Is a full-featured, text-to speech software package that allows reading text aloud as well as to wav or mp3 files. TTSReader is freeware, therefore you can download and use it free of charge.

  • Panopreter
    It reads text file, rtf file, word document and web page in .htm format, it can read in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese and more, provided such Text-To-Speech voice engines have been installed on your computer. Panopreter converts the files into audio files with the format of wave and MP3. So you can hear your files with your audio media player, you don't need to sit at the desk, with your eyes fixed on the computer's screen any longer.

  • ReadPlease 2003
    The free edition offers full support for all Microsoft voices, reads text via Windows clipboard fm any program, Adjustable voice speed (rate) and so on.

  • NaturalReader
    The Free version allows you to experience listening to your emails, web pages, reports or any text on your PC. There are no charges for downloading, using and redistributing the free version of the software.

If you have any better free text-to-speech tools to suggest, please make some noise right here :)


Suryaveer Singh said...

Wonderful Idea!

Apart from this do we have any speech to text that are double enjoy Traffic Jams!

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

Dear Suryaveer Singh,

Thanks for your feedback and question :)

Not sure of any really good free Speech-to-text tools (at the moment)! However, speech-to-text tools can be found easy in several types of software, including Microsoft Word.

Yes, it would be cool writing (or talking out) my assignments while stuck in traffic jams. Also, search will increasingly be speech-to-text enabled (Microsoft is working really hard now!), meaning we can search, find, and listen to our learning in traffic jams, without touching a keyboard. Isn't that simply cool!

Who said education cannot be fun :)

Thanks and Cheers!

Bobcat said...

Thanks for the write-up. I'd like to point out Cepstral's online service, VoiceForge. It has the largest voice variety - over 50 voices!

A big difference is that Cepstral makes & controls the engine and voices running on their VoiceForge service.

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Ole Kristensen said...

Always bear in mind:

The fastest driver is destined to have his car at the rear end of the next long queue!

Noone seems to realize this fact before the age of 50! ;-)

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weheh said...

There's a great text to speech website called YAKiToMe! that your readers should check out. It has all the AT&T Natural Voices for free and gives you unlimited/unrestricted usage. Other sites charge big money for this capability. YAKiToMe! reads any electronic text in many different languages and turns it into an audio file that you can podcast, share, embed, download, and listen to. The voice quality is much better than VozMe and the features a lot more extensive.

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Aparajayah said...

great tips thanks for sharing..this awesome..

ashwin nair said...

hi there!...i am Student who has a developed a website on games.
My teacher want me to add a text speech into the read the chapters of the games and all other content..umm..could you help me out with this?..i mean,any software available for such thing?

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

Hi Ashwin Nair,

Try this to find your answer: