Text to voice technology is growing steadily in the global market at an annual rate of 15%. This technology, a rather small one in comparison to other inventions, is demanded by most services in different industries for its useful and vital contribution. People are fascinated by the idea of having their written texts converted into spoken words using various voice types. However, with the popularity comes a stigma around text to voice capability in different sectors.
To understand more how the stigma around text to voice started, we need to go back in time to when the technology was first invented. Even though the idea of speech synthesis was first spoken about in 1779 with Christian Kratzenstein, it wasn’t until 1930 when the first speech synthesizers were first created by Homer Dudley.
The voices sounded all robotic yet businesses were adamant to use the text to voice service as long as it did the job. They were not very much bothered by the tone or quality of voice as the only reason to create it was having the text material converted from written to spoken. The technology also served as a helping tool for people with disabilities. Therefore, the outcome was much more appreciated than how the voices sounded.
In the following years, and with advancements in artificial intelligence, the voices sound more and more human-like and fast-paced, similar to how humans speak. This has resulted in a fast conversion to AI technologies. Different types of businesses are now applying text to voice in their workflow. With many brands working with text to voice and seeing the possible features that could help them with their concepts, there is much misinformation around the credibility of this technology and whether it’s worth the use.
Since text to voice replaced many business concepts where human voices were initially used, the question of whether this technology will soon replace human workers and voice actors presents itself. Some even predict that AI technology will be the only method companies will convert to in the near future when in reality, text to voice comes as a supporting system to many people. Text to voice was initially created to help people with disabilities, and the way brands should see it moving forward is exactly that: a supporting source.
Children with reading and learning difficulties express their gratitude towards including text to voice in their learning journey. Children with dyslexia, lack of focus, and visual impairment have different disabilities that require special treatment. If we were to come up with educational supporting programs for each one of these cases, we would have to rely on many human resources and spend an incredible amount of money.
Yet, seeing how the concept of text to voice ensures the exact conversion of written material to speech, they can all use this technology in their own way following their own pace.
As much as people are scared to be replaced by artificial intelligence, we should also know that some tasks can’t be performed by humans alone as they can be physically impossible and emotionally draining. Therefore, people should think of how text to voice is only supporting what they can’t accomplish. The following are a few stigmas revolving around text to voice and how most of these are false.
Since the first development of voice synthesis for people with disabilities, Text to voice was later modified and improved on many levels by private companies. The price for these modifications was significant which explains why only private companies are able to afford such techniques. Most of these private companies either used the text to voice new voices for their own benefits or include it in other concepts as we see now with AI assistance, Siri by Apple Inc or Alexa by Amazon.
These companies are benefiting from this AI technology by using them in other products and selling them to people. However, text to voice is not determined to be used in private businesses only. It’s true that the public sector lags in comparison to the private sector in terms of adopting new technologies in different applications such as passports, service enrollments, licensing…
However, this is only due to the financial support private sectors offer to developers in order to advance in enhancing such technology and they ultimately put it into use in their own products. For public sectors, the possibilities to add text to voice are endless. The only pushback reason why it’s delayed or not considered at all is the fact that there isn’t any financial contribution in the text to voice's developing process by public sectors.
Text to voice could be the answer to many of human’s everyday struggles. People rely heavily on instant services that can easily be done in seconds. This technology could be incorporated in permit services, insurance, passports, any service related to customer support. With text to voice, the power of conversational technology could be the answer to so many challenges. It means better usage of funds, a positive customer experience, and more favorable public feedback.
This solution is helping both sides. As much as customers will be able to interact with public services more easily, public administrations will also have their own virtual representatives and build their own platforms where they can compete with private services and gain more popularity.
As much as text to voice was created and is used in the learning process of disabled students, this technology has also expanded to be applied for normal students as well. Seeing how the idea of turning a written text into a spoken voice benefits students who find it hard to be on the same level as normal ones, professionals have also examined how it can benefit all students. Many students with no disability struggle to keep up in the classroom because of many factors. Some students are slow learners, some have short focus spans and others require extra attention to follow along.
Text to voice could be applied in many learning activities to help ease the learning process for all students. It can also help with their listening skills to be more intuitive and attentive. Some of the lowest readers proved to be the brightest students. Even if they can’t decipher texts well, they can definitely memorize, comprehend, evaluate, and most importantly, they can think. Even if a student can’t read on their own, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed to read at all.
Text to voice can help ease content access for these types of students. The use of text to voice technology in this case can help them follow along with the text. The instructor can generate an audio file of their reading text and play it first to help students familiarize themselves with the text. It can also help with spelling and word structure. This way, students will feel confident to take on the challenge of reading the text alone without any help.
Anxious students will come up with different scenarios to not read out loud in class. The thing is, they aren’t just lazy or prefer not to do it, some of them actually love participating and engaging in learning activities. However, when it comes to reading, they are always reluctant. These students are covering up their insecurities with these statements in order to not show their inabilities.
Using text to voice as a support mechanism will help them feel less nervous and ease up the atmosphere. After listening to the text first, they will have the desire to start reading themselves along with the generated voice. Some even turn off the text to voice recording and continue on their own. The technology allows them to gain some time and boost their confidence to take on the assignment.
Technology has always been in favor of the human race. It was always invented with the intention to ease up aspects of life and save time. In contrast to what people think, text to voice actually helps people be more productive. Imagine the opportunities you can use text to voice for. It can serve as reading when doing other activities like driving or doing house chores.
The general point is, there are many times during the day where we’re already multitasking to finish certain side jobs with lengthy dead time. Listening to an audiobook by text to voice technology can help ease up these activities. It can be used in moments where you’re not required to engage your brain, so you might as well throw in some stuff that was left behind and catch up to them.
Audiobooks are a source of motivation to finish those dreadful tasks. You can easily turn any dead time into a productive opportunity. And we need to clarify that being productive doesn’t mean sitting at your desk doing work on your laptop and spending hours working.
The statement that text to voice technology is not accurate is false. Initially, the way this technology was first invented was by using the actual human voices. Professionals record an actor reading a simple text, then use these recordings of the speech to create other sentences. They try as much as they can to sound neutral and natural, the text is also carefully written to capture the language’s richness.
The voice actors are also previously trained by professional phoneticians to make sure each alphabet is uttered correctly since the recording will be the base for future text to speech voice samples. So the aspect of voice accuracy is not evident here.
When it comes to the actual content being generated using text to voice, some might argue that few words are not well pronounced or even deleted. This is totally a normal setting as the computer’s “understanding” of the words it utters is completely limited. So having an unnaturally spoken word or syllable is expected. This is at the end of the day an artificial intelligence technology based solely on computer-generated voiceovers.
Besides, many AI companies are working continuously to produce high-quality text to voice software that will serve authentic voice outcomes. When you set the positive aspects of the text to voice, which has been used to help people with disabilities and ease learning access for students, drawbacks are not to be mentioned just because the quality of the voice is not enough. If the technology is used correctly and can serve people then that’s the most important aspect we should focus on.
To distinguish whether text to voice will replace human voice actors or not, we should first compare 4 aspects and examine what could be the best technique to adapt.
The first aspect is the quality of the voices. As we have mentioned before, AI text to voice quality in the early stages was robotic and served their purposes alone, which is helping people in need. Then, by the time technology got advanced and developers worked on improving these voices, most text to voice software work using human-like voices that can be used for different business aspects. These voices sound so real, you could hardly identify if they are real or computer-generated.
The second aspect is the cost to create a voiceover. The average charge voice actors take is around $10 for 100 words. If you consider using a text to voice software, it will cost you a fraction of this price. Generally, text to voice software costs between $40to $80 based on the quality of the voices you’re paying for. Softwares with Standard voices cost $0.0002 per character so a paragraph of 5000 words will cost you a dollar. That’s between 710 words and 1250 words with spaces included in the character count.
Neural voices are expensive as they charge $0.0004 per character. You should also consider the cost of edits. If you would like to change your voiceover, you will need to hire the voice actor and make the voiceover from scratch again whereas, with text to voice technology, you can make the edits yourself.
The third aspect is time. Time is important when creating projects. A voice actor will typically take 3 to 4 days to complete an audio file of your text. For text to voice technology, you can create the audio yourself in a few seconds. You Will not be bound by anyone else.
Last but not least is commercial rights. Some voice actors do grant you the rights you require to use the audio commercially. However, they will still ask for additional costs to cover these rights. For text to voice, once you purchase the software, you have been granted commercial rights to use the voice for your own projects and profit from them.
Analyzing all these points, one should think carefully about what technique is best to use. Text to voice may not replace voice actors but it will surely be the most used option for its accessibility.