Friday, May 1, 2009

Kindle 2's voice reads a personalized script

UPDATE 5/1/09 - Engadget's interview with Tom Glynn - "the Voice of the Kindle 2."

  (Also see later UPDATE on Tom Glynn's latest interview and voice technology.)

Below text originally added 4/27/2009 06:18:00 PM
  On a fun Amazon Kindle-forum thread titled "Tomisms" for odd events in the Kindle voice's (mis)reading of various words (some of these are hilarious), Bufo Calvin, author of Free Books for Your Kindle as well as the heartfelt The Disabled Deserve to Read: The Controversy Over the Amazon Kindle's Voice, offered forum members the personal script he wrote for his Kindle 2's voice to introduce himself.

 I modified, with his permission, that amusing intro for my own Kindle's Tom to use, and you can hear that here if interested in hearing what the K2 voice does with a personal text file.

The Kindle 2's text-to-speech technology is courtesy of Nuance.com and if you heard the mp3 above, you'll recognize Nuance's "Tom" in Nuance's official demo.  Bufo Calvin was the first forum poster to notice the similarities of the Kindle voice to Nuance's.  I don't personally know Bufo, but he's a very alert guy :-).

On an Engadget blog entry about my original posting at Kindleboards which Harvey Chute blogged, there used to be a 2nd page of comments that included some interesting details from a Mike Spa, who commented that he used to work with Tom.
"I use to work with this mystery Tom -- the voice talent.  He's a great guy to work with.  You have *no* idea how awful bad voice talents can be to work with until you have to record 2,000 voice prompts for a automated speech recognition system.  I used to design the user interfaces for those systems.  I have since moved on once I realized how much everyone hates them so."
Mike pointed us to Tom Glynn's page, where there are linked feature articles about Glynn and his work -- in The Boston Globe, The New York Times, Washington Post, etc.

Now, that's a kind of voiceover work that I'd never thought of.

For the interested, here are all of Nuance's demo voices for several languages.

UPDATE 4/28/09 - Lynn Mostafa posts on this thread that
"Astonished when Tom read *ASAP* out *as soon as possible* and pronounced *1-(831)-xxx-xxxx* as *area code 831* etc.  The tiny dude inside my Kindle is pretty smart.  Guess that's because he reads so much."
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