Speech Cards Now Available As a Beta Test
Resorb Networks today released the public beta version of BlindSpeak and an accompanying Facebook application, BlindSpeak for Facebook.
BlindSpeak allows users to send digitally synthesized messages to anywhere in the world via the internet. These "speech-cards" allow users to digitally synthesize text, save the file as an MP3, and then send it as an attachment via email.
According to Robert Ianuale, president and CEO of Resorb Networks, BlindSpeak—which he says will give people who don’t have the ability to see the opportunity to participate in text messaging—was developed during the research and development phase of a larger project that Resorb Networks is pursuing.
The current version of the application makes use of a text-to-speech (TTS) engine from Microsoft, but Ianuale says the company has plans to develop its own TTS engine.
“We decided that we’re going to be advancing on that so we’re going to make it with newer voices, with clearer text,” he says. “Our end goal is basically to not have any discernible difference between the synthesized text and somebody actually speaking.”
The accompanying Facebook application lets users of the popular social networking site send custom digitally synthesized messages to their friends through the BlindSpeak service.
“We thought why not make this a fun application as well,” says Ianuale. “The smaller piece of it—being able to just send a message to one of your [Facebook] friends—definitely has its perks. It’s more of a novelty in terms of the Facebook application.”
But Ianuale notes that as the application advances, it will “take on a more serious role” and offer a broader range of opportunities and services.
According to Resorb Networks—best known for its MyBlackBook service—a wide array of additional features will be added to BlindSpeak in the near future.
Among those features will be teletypewriter (TTY)/telecommunications device for the deaf (TTD) services, personalized and synthesized voice mail messaging, a mobile version of the application, and the more advanced TTS engine.
“The mobile version that we actually started developing for Windows Mobile 6 will be an application for smartphone that will be able to take the text message someone receives and synthesize it right on the fly,” he says.
Additionally, he notes that Resorb Networks is developing its recognition system within the mobile version so that visually impaired users will be able to speak messages that will be translated into text and then sent as text messages. “This hasn’t been done before,” he says.
Ianuale reports that the response to the new application has been very positive: in the first eight hours of its availability, BlindSpeak synthesized 5,137 messages. “We’re actually really happy in terms of the welcome we’re getting,” he says.