2022 Speech Industry Award Winner: ReadSpeaker Customizes TTS Voice Development

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ReadSpeaker, a Dutch company founded in 1999, has operated as a subsidiary of HOYA since 2017. It provides text-to-speech solutions with more than 110 voices in more than 35 languages, but its most significant work has been in the area of customized voice creation. The company really gained some very high-profile customers for that service in just the past year alone.

One of them was home sound systems provider Sonos, which worked with ReadSpeaker to re-create the voice of acclaimed character actor Giancarlo Esposito for its Sonos Voice Control. ReadSpeaker’s VoiceLab created the custom voice of Esposito, best known for his roles in Breaking BadBetter Call Saul, and The Mandalorian. Other voices will be added over time.

A key challenge in the development of this custom voice was the need for it to comprehend and pronounce nonstandard text content that is often found in the music industry. It was also critical for the assistant to read artists’ track or album information in numerous languages. The VoiceLab team worked closely with Sonos and Esposito to optimize the speech output for this massively broad domain.

“We selected ReadSpeaker to power the custom voice for Sonos Voice Control for a variety of reasons, not least of which was their ability to work closely with us from the development phase all the way through delivery,” said Joseph Dureau, vice president of voice experience at Sonos, in a statement at the time. “ReadSpeaker’s approach to custom voice is innovative and extremely thorough, which is exactly what we required for this project.”

Similarly, ReadSpeaker’s Voice Lab created the custom voices for Spotify’s Car Thing, an in-vehicle smart music player and voice assistant.

And Vasco Electronics’ new voice translator, the Vasco Translator M3, also includes TTS voices from ReadSpeaker in multiple languages.

The Vasco Translator M3 includes a precise microphone and an up-to-99 percent background noise reduction. Users just switch it on, choose two languages, and press a button and the Vasco Translator M3 will translate the conversation and ReadSpeaker’s TTS will speak it out loud.

ReadSpeaker’s TTS voices are also now featured on the Open edX Platform, making educational content accessible and engaging for a diverse population of students.

“Integrating ReadSpeaker with our courses has allowed us to provide learners with an equitable and complete learning experience,” said Evan Trivits, learning tools and technology lead at ESME, in a statement. His company uses the Open edX platform for employee education. “Whether a learner wishes to listen to their content, have a word translated for them, or simply read along with the TTS, it has been tremendous.”

ReadSpeaker also this year launched a multiplatform runtime TTS plug-in for Unreal and Unity game engines. With the ReadSpeaker TTS plug-in, game developers can add screen narration, audio description, and more to their games. The plug-in can also be used to give a voice to AI-based nonplayer characters and prototype character lines during development.

With the plug-in, game players can have text read aloud to them with near zero latency and have in-game chat messages narrated to them.

“ReadSpeaker’s runtime TTS plug-in is a game changer for developers and players alike,” said Conor Bradley, director of Soft Leaf Studios, in a statement.

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