Word is voice-activated devices will speak more naturally

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VOICE-activated devices that can interact with people in a natural, intelligent way could soon be available according to city research.

Scientists will use sophisticated computing techniques to create a combined system that can not only understand the spoken word well but can also synthesise voices that sound natural. The technology will be equipped with artificial intelligence to enable it to become familiar with a user’s voice.

The team of scientists from Edinburgh University, who carried out the research, say the technology could have many benefits, including improved voice-activated computers and communications technology. It may also help to develop web search engines for audio clips.

Speech technology also has potential to create voice-controlled devices for the home, which could help older people stay independent.

Professor Steve Renals, of the university’s School of Informatics, who is leading the project, said: “We are working to develop technologies that can recognise and generate natural- sounding speech.

“This could open the door to computer speech technology becoming commonplace throughout our lives – at home, at work, and in our leisure time.”