[Bookreader] Text to Speech readers for XO

Mike McCabe mccabe at archive.org
Thu Oct 29 18:30:12 EDT 2009

I'll chime in -

I also think this is a great idea.  I've worked with several 
text-to-speech readers recently, as part of my effort to make the 
Internet Archive books available to print disabled people.

They're very useful, and I think that this mode of reading could be of 
use to a very broad range of users.  I suspect we'll see more of it soon.

I'm also curious to hear about specific experiences with 
linux-compatible free TTS, as we may be producing audio books with this 
to work with the new Library of Congress audio players.

Best regards -

Gregor Kervina wrote:
> Hi Sayamindu,
> thanks for quick reply!
> There is a lot of text to speech software out there - I use 
> http://www.bytecool.com/coolspch.htm that you can try trial and download 
> additional voices, just to get a feeling, but it is not free and not for 
> linux. Many other programs are more complex and complicated and some of 
> them use very complex voice engines that in my opinion doesn't sound 
> very good. (I use Mary voice with cool speech)
> OK I spent some time to find all TTS software that is free for linux and 
> here are some links:
> http://linux-sound.org/speech.html
> http://linuxhelp.blogspot.com/2006/01/festival-text-to-speech-synthesis.html
> http://larswiki.atrc.utoronto.ca/wiki/Software  - see the links under 
> Speech section
> http://www.xenocafe.com/tutorials/php/festival_text_to_speech/index.php
> http://www.wikihow.com/Convert-Text-to-Speech-on-Linux
> http://www.cstr.ed.ac.uk/projects/festival/
> http://www.cstr.ed.ac.uk/projects/festival/onlinedemo.html - listen to 
> some demo voices
> http://sourceforge.net/projects/dhvani/ - this one not english
> http://sourceforge.net/projects/tts-cubed/
> http://www.speech.cs.cmu.edu/hephaestus.html - click the links in Speech 
> Synthesis section
> http://www.speech.cs.cmu.edu/comp.speech/Section5/Synth/rsynth.html
> http://www.linux.com/archive/feature/122197 - two readers - plug-ins for 
> firefox.
> I can not test them because I'm not a linux user. Maybe you can modify 
> some of these software (probably Festival) for more user friendly 
> reading and maybe program a specific button on XO keyboard that will 
> automatically read the selected text no matter what program is used for 
> opening the text.
> Judging from google search result for DTBooks, this technology is not 
> spread at all. The other problem is that it uses somtimes recorded audio 
> and the size of that is too large for XO... I think the most important 
> is that TTS works with reader that will open 1.6M e-books from internet 
> archive 
> <http://www.xconomy.com/boston/2009/10/24/internet-archive-opens-1-6-million-e-books-to-olpc-laptops/>(are 
> you in this team?).
> Also one important thing is to add cheap headphones with laptop so 
> children could listen to reading without desturbing others and in the 
> noisy environments ... another advantage of audio reading is much longer 
> battery life because you can turn off LCD monitor and audio alone does 
> not consume much energy.
> Let me know what you think.
> All the best,
> Gregor
> On Mon, Oct 26, 2009 at 4:08 PM, Sayamindu Dasgupta <sayamindu at gmail.com 
> <mailto:sayamindu at gmail.com>> wrote:
>     Hi Gregor,
>     Thanks a lot for jumping in :-)
>     On Mon, Oct 26, 2009 at 2:38 AM, Gregor Kervina
>     <gregor.kervina at gmail.com <mailto:gregor.kervina at gmail.com>> wrote:
>      > Dear Sayamindu Dasgupta, SJ Klein and other members of this list,
>      >
>      > I'm a student of electrical engineering from Europe and would
>     like to share
>      > with you my very positive experience with text to speech
>     technology that can
>      > in my opinion significantly increase the educational potential of
>     XO if used
>      > in the right way.
>      >
>      > For the past 12 years (since I was 15 years old) I'm daily
>     learning from
>      > e-books and internet using text to speech software. I know this
>     software is
>      > unpopular in developed world, many people don't even know that it
>     exists. On
>      > the other hand many people (including me) don't like reading long
>     texts on
>      > the LCD screens - that's why e-books are also not very popular.
>      >
>      > But unlike my friends I read 50+ e-books every ear and also daily
>     news on
>      > the internet - I just select the text, copy it, and CoolSpeech
>     software
>      > (using Mary voice) reads me all the text with speeds 300 to 500
>     words per
>      > minute. In this way I can browse other sites or look at photos or
>     just lay
>      > down and listen while my laptop is reading to me.
>      > Other people don't understand what I'm reading because it is too
>     fast for
>      > them but it can be learned quickly with slower speeds at beginning.
>      >
>      > I think XO laptops should definitely have such software
>     pre-installed and a
>      > video introduction how to use it and what reading speeds can they
>     expect
>      > after some time of practicing.
>      > It is also ideal for children with poor eye sight.
>      >
>     This sounds awesome. Could you let us know if the text to speech
>     software you have in mind is free/opensource and if it works on Linux
>     ?
>     I am also looking at DTBooks specifications for digital talking books
>     - do you know how useful/widespread this technology is ?
>     Thanks,
>     Sayamindu
>     --
>     Sayamindu Dasgupta
>     [http://sayamindu.randomink.org/ramblings]
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