I wrote a piece back in October about Pocket’s revamped text to speech feature inside its read it later app. In it, I posited that I didn’t yet think that the robots were coming for all the audio jobs, but that AI and automated reads would become more common in the coming months and years.
We’ve got a small update on that, in the form of a vocal update for Amazon’s Alexa. It’s getting a “newscaster” voice, so that news updates can be delivered in a more natural and traditional way. You can hear two pieces delivered in both the old and the new style in this article, and I have to say I don’t think there’s a tremendous difference, but maybe as a non smart speaker owner I’m just not tuned in to the subtleties enough.
Anyway, this is apparently an application of Neural TTS technology, that enables the automated voice to be adapted to different contexts depending what content the user asks to hear. Technologically interesting, but I suspect still not anywhere near good enough to get people to ditch their human-voiced news reports yet.