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Robotic Voices

You hear them more and more. Their metallic sound, cold and neutral and of course outlandish. Robotic voices are conquering our public spaces, a vocal matrix of instructions and messages, avant-garde of the new controlled society. I hear them every time I drive out of the parking lot at the Lyon airport: “Merci pour votre visite, bonjour”. The message is clear, but the inhuman sound is also perceived by my mind as an android sound. I wish it were so pleasant, even funny and sophisticated as C3PO the protocol droid from Star Wars. No way near.

But hey, let’s not reject this technology. As you can probably hear in your own computer, some synthesized voices are very close to the real thing. Google has made an impressive progress with its plugin that can emulate human speech. Just try this, write define, then write any word. You can then look up both the meaning of the word and listen to the right pronunciation.

Will this technology ever replace the job of voice talents, well not entirely. The human voice carries more than just information, it transports emotions that a machine can’t reproduce. But voice artists and studios beware, one day not so far in the future, the technology might surprise you. Some companies are developing that software that can read any script in most languages with the rhythm, intonation and pitch you want. But then to avoid a ridiculous expression, there always be a human being behind the puppet.

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