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How to Integrate Text-to-Speech in the Internet of Things

Want to give your IoT product a voice? Still not convinced that text-to-speech is a must have feature for an IoT device? Keep on reading to find all the answers you need.

Text to speech in the internet of things

If you’re familiar with the Internet of Things (IoT), then you already know that IoT is all about being connected, sharing information, and communication. IoT separates great devices from ordinary ones because of the value it can provide to the user. (If you’re not familiar with IoT yet read our article on it here!)

Text-to-Speech technology can be viewed the same way. Text-to-speech makes interactions between devices and humans more natural and engaging. You could say that text-to-speech is also about being connected, sharing information, and communication.

It’s no wonder that many of today’s IoT devices feature text-to-speech.  If current trends continue, almost all IoT devices will feature text-to-speech in the next few years.

So how does a manufacturer go about integrating text-to-speech into an IoT device? After all, these devices usually have limited computing power and storage space, and must work in real-time.

Thankfully, it can be a lot easier than you think with NeoSpeech. Whether you want to host a text-to-speech engine on your device, in our cloud, or in your own cloud, we have the solutions that can make it happen without a hassle.

So which option is right for you? And how can we make that happen? Keep on reading to find your answers.

Why does IoT need a voice?

In case you’re not convinced yet that an IoT device should have a text-to-speech voice, hear us out.

Our phones, alarm clocks, thermostats, appliances, and just about any other device that can connect to the internet is a part of the Internet of Things. These devices use their ability to connect to the internet to communicate information to other devices and people.

This makes IoT devices much smarter than regular devices. Your thermostat at home can record that the temperature in your house is 76 degrees and communicate it to your car as you’re driving home. After your car relays the message to you, you can tell your car to set the thermostat to 68 degrees. Your car would then communicate that to the thermostat which would set the new temperature.

These two IoT devices were able to communicate and share information with each other, which makes both devices more accessible, usable, and valuable.

IoT is all about communicating and sharing information. Therefore, shouldn’t your IoT device be able to communicate and share information with its user in the most natural, humanlike way possible?

Text-to-speech enables your devices to talk to your users. This makes the device appear smarter. It also makes it much easier to use. Your users would be able to perform other tasks, such as driving or cooking, while hearing information from whatever IoT device they’re using.

Without text-to-speech, your IoT device would require a screen that users would have to focus on to read whatever message it has. Frankly, this is starting to become outdated.

After all, if an IoT device is able to communicate efficiently with other devices, shouldn’t it be able to communicate with people as efficiently as possible too?

How to give IoT a voice

In order to have a voice, you need a text-to-speech engine. The engine is where the database of recordings from the voice actor is stored. It’s what is able to convert inputted text into audible speech instantly.

When integrating text-to-speech into your IoT product, the first thing you need to decide is where to store the text-to-speech engine.

The engine can be installed locally on your device, within an IoT hub, in your cloud, or in NeoSpeech’s own cloud.

Stored locally

If your device has a sufficient amount of computing power and storage space, and/or if your product won’t always be connected to the internet, then you want the engine to be installed locally on the device.

Some IoT devices are meant to go wherever the user goes. Many times the user will go where there is no internet connection. If that’s the case, then the IoT device must be able to work without the internet.

By storing the engine within the device, you can ensure that the text-to-speech function will always work. Whenever the device needs to convert a string of text into speech, it’ll send the request to the engine stored in the device, instantly convert it into a speech output, and then play the speech.

To make this happen, all you need is NeoSpeech’s VoiceText Embedded SDK package. This package will come optimized for your specific embedded device system requirements (and our embedded engines have small footprints so they don’t take up too much memory). You’ll get the text-to-speech engine, which you would store in your device, and then an SDK which will make it very easy for you to program your device to interact with the engine exactly how you want it.

Stored in an IoT hub

This solution is perfect for those making a suite of smart home products that all connect to one hub.

A smart home hub is a device that connects and controls all of your other smart home devices. Amazon Echo can be thought of as a hub, as you can use it to control your other smart home devices (such as telling the Echo to turn off your upstairs lights).

Smart home hubs usually have more processing power and storage space than other IoT devices, which makes it easier to store the engine in it.

When the smart home hub receives a text-to-speech request from end-device, it can convert it into speech and then either play the speech through the speakers in the hub, or send the audio file back to the end-device which then plays the audio.

Either way, we have the text-to-speech packages that will make it easy for you to build.

And what makes this solution great is that the devices don’t need to be able to connect to the internet to for the text-to-speech conversions, it only needs to be able to connect to the smart home hub through a local network connection.

In your cloud

If your IoT device functions by always having a connection to your company’s server(s), then we have good news for you! Our VoiceText TTS Server SDK package lets you integrate our text-to-speech engine into your server.

This process is just as simple as the ones mentioned above. All you need to do is install our engine and Server SDK in your server, and then use our Server SDK to program how your product will use the engine and when.

Then, whenever your IoT device needs to make speech, it will just send the request to your server, which will then instantly send back the audio file of the speech to play.

This enables you to free up limited memory space and processing power on your IoT device, while still allowing it to perform text-to-speech conversions in real-time

In NeoSpeech’s cloud

Did the option above sound perfect for you, except for the part where you don’t have a server? Don’t worry, you can just connect all of your IoT devices to NeoSpeech’s cloud through our Web Service platform.

For this, we’ll just send you the API your programmer needs to allow your IoT devices to connect to our text-to-speech server.

Once it’s set up, whenever your IoT device needs to say something, it’ll send the request to our cloud which will send back the speech.

Using NeoSpeech for IoT

Text-to-speech and IoT can be a match made in heaven. Giving your IoT device a voice will make it easier to use and increase customer satisfaction. Plus, with NeoSpeech’s suite of text-to-speech solutions, it can be very easy to integrate text-to-speech, just give us a call and we’ll help make it happen!

What do you think?

Do you think all IoT devices should feature text-to-speech? How do you see speech technology and IoT growing in the next few years? Let us know in the comments!

Learn More about NeoSpeech’s Text-to-Speech

Want to learn more about all the ways Text-to-Speech can be used? Visit our Text-to-Speech Areas of Application page. And check out our Text-to-Speech Products page to find the right package for any device or application.

If you’re interested in integrating Text-to-Speech technology into your product, please fill out our short Sales Inquiry form and we’ll get you all the information and tools you need.

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  • Mihai Damianov

    August 23, 2017 at 2:30 pm Reply

    Is it possible to use Neospeech as a standalone option for local applications that do not have access to the internet at all?

    • neoadmin

      August 25, 2017 at 2:48 pm Reply

      Hello Mihai,

      Yes! If you want to integrate NeoSpeech into your standalone application, then you need our VoiceText TTS Engine SDK. Contact our Sales Team and they’ll be happy to help!

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