Text to Speech

Richard Sprague wonders why Text To Speech does not get more attention. I thought I would share a valuable use of this technology.

I had to implement a TTS solution years ago in a VB6 app and it solved a huge problem for my client. I used Chant’s fantastic SpeechKit package to accomplish this.

The problem was that we create a daily schedule for technicians out in the field. At that time we were not yet publishing the schedule to the web (of course, we are now). So, in order for techs not to have to come into the office just to get their info, each one of them had a special extension on the phone system. At the end of the day, the scheduler would have to dial each person’s extension and leave them a voice mail detailing everythign they would need to know about the next days’ work. In the summertime, there are about 70 field technicians. This solution was great for the techs but not so for the person who had that horrible chore.

I figured out how to take the data that was getting pushed onto the big schedule report and use Ms. Microsoft Mary (this was before the huge revision of the MS Speech tools) to “read” the information into individual WAV files. The tricky part was finding a DOS utility to convert the wave files into the format used by their voice mail system. Because of the many hurdles I was told by many, including the company that owned the voice mail system, that this project couldn’t be done. But my client had faith in my pit bull like qualities when I am told “can’t be done”, and I persevered. Although still Mary has to “read” the info in real time, we run multiple instances of my app and she can do the whole process in about 20 – 30 minutes while the scheduler is able to do other tasks.

This has saved my client about 2 hours a day, 5 days a week for the past 4 years or more years. It was well worth the effort.


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