21/01/2013 - CereProc's Wonder Emporium of Text-to-Speech - Talk Proper
You know what? I'm really attracted to British women, there's something innately proper about them. However badly they behave, their accent is so cute that it makes up for everything!
Josh Hartnett (Film Actor)
Without advocating bad behaviour, like Josh Hartnett, at CereProc we love regional accents and do find them much more appealing to listen to. For too long speech synthesis has concentrated on only a few accents resulting in a bland and unnatural user experience for most. In English language synthesis the traditional option has been either to integrate a US or a rather starchy British accent into the voice output. Given the diversity of native English speakers nowadays, to offer only US and one regional British accent is a shame, and most certainly affects the uptake of TTS usage.
Regional accents come with an incredible sense of colour, identity and personality. We’ve found that for many applications of speech synthesis - for example in education and in call centres - the user experience and reception is greatly improved through the introduction of an accent that is likeable and offers perceived social identification or regional familiarity into human-computer interaction.
With market research easily available supporting this notion, some businesses have acted to capitalise on the benefits of specific accents. For example, the Scottish accent is particularly well received within the UK, and this factor has led to a number of customer service and call centres being located within Scotland. There are some great comments regarding the Scottish voices being used in call centres on Which in response to the conversation: It doesn’t matter where the call centre is, it’s about service
Listen to what Sue has to say on the subject in this example using the Haptek talking head:
Sue's fabulously distinguishing accent hails from West Bromwich (she's available to download for Windows, Mac and Android). Our team created the synthetic voice for an art gallery called The Public to improve the audience engagement during an exhibition focusing on the Black Country. The accent - attributed to the area of Britain known as the Black Country, so called because during the 19th Century the heavy industry there covered the area in black soot - is very much attached to Black Country heritage. Ensuring that all digital communication within the exhibition was carried out using Sue, curators were able to improve engagement with audiences and maximise the impact of the collection and information across multiple channels.
Many regional accents have local phrases and styles of speech, and we believe it part of our responsibility to use our industry expertise and technology to capture these accents, preserve them for future generations, and also let them thrive in new media content where speech synthesis is used.
Below are some more English accents. Try and guess where they are from, and if that's too easy guess what town they are from:
Far from exclusively developing multi platform voices regional accents from across England, we have developed English language accents hailing from the U.S and Scotland too - with our mobile app offering the soft lilting tones of the Scottish Glaswegian accent to Android users being a real team favourite! Dodo is also available for Windows and Mac.
Which is your favourite English language accent? Have you experienced a synthetic voice with a memorable accent? Join the conversation on Twitter!
In case you missed it, here is the link to the Wonder Emporium Part 1