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What is an Embedded TTS?

By Ken Black
Updated May 17, 2024
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Embedded TTS is text-to-speech technology that embeds the speech into a software package that is then put on the market for practical use. The speech software can be used over multiple platforms and has practical implications in a number of fields. Embedded TTS is a relatively new technology that will improve over time, even though the latest products claim nearly natural sounding speech.

The purpose of embedded TTS is to take the place of text in applications where reading is impractical or impossible. The blind, in particular, will find using a computer easier with embedded TTS. However, that is not its only application. Telephone communication, for example, offers no chance to read the information the other party is trying to convey. Therefore, without the benefit of a live person embedded TTS could be very valuable in such an environment. Another application where it is commonly seen is GPS navigation systems. Often, it is simply too dangerous for the driver to attempt to read directions off a small screen. Using embedded TTS in this situation allows the driver to hear the next direction.

While early attempts at embedded TTS ended up as annoying products that did not sound lifelike and were very difficult to follow, many advancements have been made since that time. The early products simply put together recorded words in the fashion they appeared in a sentence, with no particular inflection or sound. This caused a very broken form of communication, almost like a computer voice from the original Star Trek series, only worse.

Technology has since improved to the point where now each individual sound is broken down and put together to create words. Many of those words are spoken by some very pleasant-sounding voices. In many cases, it may be hard to distinguish whether the voice is a live person or not. However, the technology did not stop there.

For the first time, embedded TTS began to understand saying words was only part of the equation. Those words, and the sounds they were given, sound differently depending on which part of the sentence they are in. Therefore, embedded TTS software also accounted for that factor, allowing the voices to speak in natural flow and style, as long as the grammar is written correctly.

While the technology can be expensive to implement, many see it as a way to streamline business operations. Those dealing with hundreds or thousands of calls each day need many operators to handle the volume. That is also expensive. Being able to use embedded TTS in at least some of those positions could create a substantial cost savings.

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