Skype Gets a New Voice

IVO Software today began embedding the latest version of its text-to-speech program, Expressivo 1.4.2, into the Skype Communicator, allowing instant messages sent via Skype to be read aloud.

The addition of IVO’s software enables users of Skype, which is owned by online auction site eBay, to walk away from the computer and receive voice notification when a friend has logged onto Skype or hear text messages that have been sent, all without having to constantly scan the monitor.

Skype’s new functions are expected to be of real significance for the elderly and the blind or visually impaired. So far, using the communicator has been difficult or even impossible for them. Reading small fonts often was a difficult barrier to cross.

According to officials at Skype, the IVO offering is the latest of a long stream of third-party software plug-ins that expand the capabilities of Skype’s Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and instant messaging programs. They also note that interest in working with Skype has grown over the last year or so.

Skype Communicator is the latest program that has been voice-enabled by IVO’s Expressivo. The application also allows users of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mozilla’s Firefox Web browsers to listen to the content of Web pages, users of email program Mozilla Thunderbird to hear their email messages, users of the Mozilla Sunbird organizer to hear memos, and users of Google Calendar to hear their scheduled tasks.

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