OKI Brings a Unique Voice to TTS

Japanese telecommunications firm OKI Electric Industry yesterday launched Polluxstar, a text-to-speech (TTS) software solution that allows users to reproduce their own voice.

Using Polluxstar software on their computers, individuals can communicate through TTS in their own voice, complete with their unique tones and inflections, rather than a computerized, non-human voice.

To recreate the individual’s voice, OKI requires users to submit prescribed voice files or go to an OKI-approved recording studio. Once the company has the recorded audio it needs, it enters the individual’s voice information into a database that is included with the software package he buys.

The technology is only available in Japan right now, but the company has not ruled out the possibility of taking it to other markets. "At this point, we think the overseas market is a good possibility, but we don’t have any immediate plans," says Naomi Takeuchi, OKI’s U.S. spokesperson.

Takeuchi adds that the product is currently being targeted to consumers, especially those who have illnesses that could result in the loss of their voices. One of the first users of the technology was Izumi Maki, a computer science professor at Osaka University of Arts. Prior to undergoing surgery to remove his vocal chords, OKI recorded his voice data and installed it in Polluxstar for him to use. Six months after his surgery, Maki returned to the university to give lectures again, using his real voice through the computer.

Polluxstar (which is named after the mythological figure Pollux—one of the twin brothers in the Gemini constellation—to express OKI’s desire to create TTS software that can act as a person’s "other half’) is a stand-alone software application that is unique to each individual user. A person cannot, for example, create a voice file that can be sent as an email unless the recipient also has the software with that person’s voice database installed on his computer, Takeuchi explains.

OKI is also considering other uses for the technology, which Takeuchi says could have commercial applications in the entertainment industry in particular.

"We will continue to develop TTS technology and apply it to new applications in which one's unique voice is necessary for richer voice communication," Yuichiro Hiranuma, president of OKI’s Ubiquitous Service Platform unit, said in a statement.

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