Originally developed as an automated tool for the service of visually impaired people, text to speech (or TTS) has emerged as a preferred tool for many technology service providers for improving customer service. In simple language, a TTS tool converts written text into natural speech that can be heard and understood by any human user. An example of a text-to-speech tool is the Google Cloud Text-to-Speech tool that can convert text into speech in over 180 supported voices and in across 30 languages.
Additionally, Amazon Web Services (or AWS) is also leveraging the TTS technology with the launch of the Amazon Polly cloud service in November 2018. With support for 59 different voices in over 29 languages, Amazon Polly uses a variety of deep learning technologies for synthesis of speech from a text that sounds very similar to a natural human voice.
So, how does the text-to-speech technology work and what are its main benefits and applications in today’s industry? Let’s take a look.
How does Text to Speech Service Work?
Text to Speech technology has evolved over the last few decades and has been enabled by various underlying technologies including deep learning tools like machine learning and artificial intelligence. For example, based on machine learning, the use of speech synthesis in TTS has enabled the artificial rendering of human-like speech in computer systems.
Among the popular approaches towards speech synthesis, Google WaveNet is being developed as an audio-generative model that can produce audio that is very similar to a human voice. Along with extensive research in WaveNet speech synthesis technology, Google’s Cloud Text-to-Speech tool is deploying advanced neural networks to deliver the best fidelity across applications and devices.
Thanks to its WaveNet technology, the Cloud Text-to-Speech tool now supports over 90 WaveNet voices and has reduced the performance gap between computer-generated speech and natural human voices by 70%.
Next, let’s look at some of the leading applications of the TTS services.
Applications of Text to Speech Services
TTS services are currently used in a variety of industry-wide applications including those that cater to:
Scanning and reading of a printed text
Thanks to its integration with Optical character recognition (or OCR) technology, TTS tools can be used in devices like reading pens that scan printed text (from any source) and convert them into digital text or read-back text.
Children with learning disabilities
TTS tools can be a boon for children with learning disabilities like dyslexia that makes it challenging for them to read large volumes of written text. Through a combination of visual and audio-based learning to academic material, text-to-speech can help students with learning disabilities improve their comprehension, vocabulary, and overall reading skills.
For slow learning students, TTS tools like Audiofont allow functionalities like downloading text-to-speech converted audio files to their personal devices and customizing the speech pace (both according to their learning pace).
Providing content on any device
Text-to-speech technology converts any digital content including website content, online E-books, PDF files, and even online “news” content into audio content that consumers can listen to on their personal devices while on the move. This enhances their mobility and does not restrict them to a computer (or device) screen that requires constant scrolling and navigating.
For example, the Audiofont tool converts written content from online sources, PDF documents, web pages, and other types into downloadable audio files, and even shares the converted audio files on social media platforms.c
Text-to-speech technology can enhance the customer service function of any business through the use of automated (but natural-sounding) voices. TTS tools can be used to optimize automated voice commands and interactive voice response (or IVR) systems to embrace human-like speech and languages that can engage with a larger customer base.
TTS technology can enhance customer experience through the use of natural human-like speech. A single and consistent TTS voice quality can build your brand image across multiple customer touchpoints. Additionally, for businesses that depend on quality customer service, this technology can reduce operational costs and reduce the workload of your customer service agents.
TTS tools can benefit online publishers and website content owners by increasing the accessibility and market reach for their online content to a wider customer base. This can include users with visual impairments or whose native language is different from the language supported by the mobile app or software application.
TTS tools can enhance the mode of delivering corporate learning modules from HR services and e-learning specialists. With downloadable audio files, employees can pace their own learning and time, thus improving employee productivity in the long run.
How Text-to-Speech Tools Benefits Business & Customers
Be it a product (or service) user or an online learner, Text to speech technology can service any individual in the way they interact with content. Some of the industry-wide benefits of TTS services include:
- Ease of use for users in any age group (from children to older adults) along with the convenience of accessing content in the mode—visual or auditory—of their choice.
- Improved customer experience in the form of speech-enabled customer service that enable a personalized user experience and reduces operational costs for businesses.
- Free to use tools (like Audiofont) that are very easy to use and require no login or registration.
- Support for multiple languages that can enhance the business reach to a wider customer base across the globe.
- Increased accessibility to potential customers with illiteracy or lack of reading skills through spoken language that is easy to follow and understand.
- Saves time and money through the deployment of free TTS tools on cloud-based or SaaS platforms that ensure quick deployment and require minimum maintenance.
- Increased mobility for on-the-move users who can tune into TTS-enabled apps when travelling or even when working at their desk.
- The global increase in the adoption of connected devices using Internet of Things (or IoT) technology presents a market opportunity for TTS tools as it provides a more user-friendly mode of communicating with their customers and ensures convenience for users browsing through digital content on their personal devices.
Designed to convert large volumes of text or a complete website URL in the browser, Audiofont (developed by Countants) is a text-to-speech tool that enables you to listen to any form of content on your personal devices. Free to use, Audiofont can convert text from multiple sources including online text, PDF files, E-books, website pages, and more. What’s more? You can install the tool as a smartphone app or as an extension on your browser. Other tool features offered by Audiofont include selecting the voice gender (male or female) in which you want to hear the audio and adjusting the speed of the converted audio speech.
Specialized in offering customized cloud-based solutions for global customers, Countants is a data analytics company that enables better business decisions through data visualization, analytics, and machine learning.
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