SVOX Introduces Polyglot TTS

SVOX, a Swiss provider of embedded speech solutions, today announced the availability of a new multilingual capability within its text-to-speech (TTS) applications.

The polyglot SVOX TTS, which supports the company’s SVOX Corporate, SVOX Automotive Pro, SVOX Automotive, SVOX Mobile Pro, and SVOX Mobile TTS products, can seamlessly insert proper pronunciations of foreign words or phrases—such as song titles or place names—into TTS output. This means, for example, that the SVOX German voice is able to pronounce an English song title fluently—albeit with a German accent—in a German sentence.

“Other languages are understandable by the entire system, so that the English voice can also speak German in a natural, native way, or at least as perfectly as possible,” explains Eric Lehmann, chief sales officer at SVOX.

“At the moment, every language in a TTS system contains its own specific grammar and vocabulary,” Lehmann continues. “We have been able to pull them together, cross-mapping between languages.” This, he explains, results in the target language being enriched with additional sounds—or phonemes—from other languages.

This marks a new approach in the TTS market, where foreign sounds that do not exist in the target language are typically mapped to the closest available sounds. Since most languages have a number of unique sounds, such mapping results in unnatural and erroneous pronunciation of foreign words. “Proper names are the biggest challenge,” Lehmann says. “Normally, people laugh at what the speech engine puts out.”

SVOX is strongly entrenched in the automotive market, with its TTS engine embedded into the navigation, communication, and entertainment systems of cars from some of the world’s leading automakers. However, Lehmann sees many other cases where different languages might mix, making a polyglot TTS system useful. These include news reading, Web applications, travel applications, mobile applications, messaging, and email reading, to name a few.

The system currently supports only English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. SVOX’s TTS systems support a total of 21 languages, “and the [matrices] are being developed now for all the others,” Lehmann says.

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