CereProc brings emotional voice to the UK as part of global CreST network tour

11/20/2012 (press release: DPRi) // Helen Reid

A team from speech technology company CereProc – collaborating with fellow scientists and speech practitioners in the arts as part of the global interdisciplinary Creative Speech and Technology (CreST) network – is set to participate in a pioneering research study conceived by the network’s Voice Expressivity and Emotion Group (VEEG) to explore challenges and new practices involved in synthetic voice production and emotional conversation.

Taking up their position alongside industry specialists from around the world, CereProc’s experts will engage in the wider project while focusing work on the design and build of the central experimental chat bot – named the Conversational Kiosk installation – before showcasing the research as part of a touring exhibition that aims to heighten public engagement with computer speech research and encourage uptake of speech technology in a number of applications.

Led by Dr Alistair Edwards, University of York and Dr Christopher Newell, University of Hull, the project named Articulate: The Art and Science of Synthetic Speech – supported by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Arts Council England (ACE) – explores the nature of emotional conversation using the interactive, chat bot powered by CereProc’s text to speech technology, and features exhibits created by scientists and artists using state of the art speech technologies.

Alongside text to speech technology and synthetic speech expertise delivered by CereProc, the CreST network blended multiple disciplines involving specialists from Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) for disabled users, public voice-announcements and telephone self-service systems, musical composition, human-computer interaction (HCI) and artificial intelligence (AI) – to reach its research objectives.

Explaining the fundamental importance of this exhibition, Dr. Edwards said:

“Speech-synthesis technology allows those who have lost their voice through illness or disability to communicate verbally. However, there is an urgent need for this type of technology to be more widely available and for it to be more reliable and personal.”

Chris Pidcock, Chief Voice Engineer at CereProc explained:

“We’re very proud to be involved in the CreST network, and to have our emotional text to speech voices applied to such an innovative and valuable project. Being given the opportunity to collaborate so closely with such a dedicated group of creative individuals has been – and continues to be – an absolute privilege.

“With the tour kicking off on Monday Dec 3rd, we’re looking forward to exhibiting the interactive chatbot, engaging with a wide variety of audiences across the country in the coming months, and ultimately raise awareness of synthetic speech and its wide range of capabilities for the future.”

Dr. Edwards added: “By providing more public engagement with computer speech research using the creative and performing arts, CreST aims to help people gain more understanding of the benefits and limitations of this type of technology.”

Commenced in March 2011 as part of a 2 year collaborative partnership between members of the CreST network, the forthcoming touring exhibition – Yorkshire and Humberside until January 26th 2013 – is a demonstration of the culmination of works developed within the network and will offer special activities for the public supported by an interactive website.

The CreST VEEG group exhibition Articulate: The Art and Science of Synthetic Speech will visit various locations in York, Sheffield, Hull on December 3, 4 and 5 respectively, before being given a temporary residence at the Woodend Gallery, The Crescent in Scarborough between January 22nd and 26, 2013.

Further information regarding the project can be found at http://crestnetwork.org.uk/index.php

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