Ever since the first personal computer was introduced, researchers have been trying to create a lifelike speech synthesizer that can comfortably and correctly convert text on the screen into perfect speech. There have been a number of approaches, and pretty much all of them have failed miserably. This might sound like a big fail to all of us, but the reality is that our vocal chords are truly hard to recreate and there are several muscles that control the pitch and sound of them. The longer researchers battle the problem, the closer they get to solving this mystery. So far we haven’t seen a solution that mimics real life speech correctly. You can always tell if there is a synthetic voice or not by the digitization of the sound itself.
I was on a hunt the other day to check out the development of these speech synthesizers (don’t ask me why), and I stumbled over a really cool and retro clip. It’s one of the first (if not THE first) synthetic speech synthesizers, and boy is it awesome. If I had one of these at home, I would play with it 24/7 for sure. The sound of it is remarkably good, and you can really tell what the… uh… “thing” is saying.
It is called VODER and is operated very much like a synth; however, pressing the different keys on the speech synthesizer enables different sounds and expressions. Sounds in general have never been a problem when it comes to speech synthesizers. It is the expressions in the voice that are uber tricky, and it needs some truly amazing and difficult algorithms to be able to correctly recreate the emotions and expressions all of us use in our voices. The slightest joy or sadness can be detected in our own voice, but recreating that on a speech synthesizer has proven to be ultimately difficult. Here it is, the world’s first speech synthesizer, VODER!