With all of the enhancements and innovations in digital reading, perhaps one of the most exciting is the more natural-sounding audio narrations coming out for ebooks. While audiobooks recorded by celebrity voices and trained actors are still a favorite for book listening, we’ve come a long way since the first edition Kindle would robotically read the text of an ebook.
One of the first markets to do a great job of ebook narration was the children’s publishing niche, with companies like iStoryTime and Sourcebooks creating dynamic read-aloud narration to go along with their app books. While these voices were still recorded, they fit the scope of the text with real-time highlighting so that the combination of visual and auditory learning was uninterrupted.
For the other readers, companies like StorEbook, profiled by engadget following a demo at a live event this week, are bringing a more natural sound to the world of text-to-speech reading thanks to development through AT&T’s Natural Voices TTS research. The future goal of that web-based reading developer is to allow for a greater sense of personalization to TTS, allowing loved ones to voice potentially any book by collecting voice samples over time.
Ultimately, consumer demand has driven the far more natural sound to TTS and its inverse, speech-to-text innovations, due in large part to a need for greater convenience in digital books and in accommodations for special needs users.