Wikipedia To Offer Text-to-Speech Synthesis
The seventh most popular website in the world is now working to create the world’s first crowdsourced text-to-speech platform. This new feature will allow users to have the text from Wikipedia pages read aloud to them. Wikipedia is the latest among a growing number of companies making their websites more accessible to users with disabilities who may have trouble reading text on their screens.
This is big news considering a recent study estimated that a quarter of Wikipedia users, or 125 million per month, need or prefer their text read aloud to them.
The KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden is currently developing the platform. The text-to-speech servers will be hosted by Wikipedia, meaning users won’t have to download any software to use the feature.
In addition to this service, Wikipedia will also make the speech synthesis platform open source. Websites will be able to easily download and use the software for their own web pages. Individuals will also be able to download the platform for personal use.
The goal is to have English, Swedish, and Arabic speech engines ready by 2017. Wikipedia plans on eventually offering synthesized speech for each of the 281 languages that are supported by the online encyclopedia.
Eventually, users will also be able to report words that are pronounced incorrectly in an effort to correct the speech. This crowdsourcing element falls in line with Wikipedia’s defining characteristic. Since 2001, Wikipedia has grown its database to an astronomical size thanks to users freely contributing content, writing articles, and correcting mistakes.
While this will be the first crowd funded TTS engine, it won’t be the first open source TTS engine. Companies like Google and Microsoft offer text-to-speech synthesis for free as well. This has earned those companies praise for offering tools to make the internet and computers more accessible. The main drawback with free TTS engines are that they are commonly considered lower quality and sound less realistic.
We’re excited to see Wikipedia roll out this feature in the future and eventually support almost 300 languages, which is nothing short of amazing! We hope other websites follow Wikipedia’s lead and work to make the entire internet more accessible to everyone.
What do you think?
Would you use Wikipedia’s text-to-speech feature? Which website would you like to have TTS functionality? Let us know in the comments!
Learn More about NeoSpeech’s Text-to-Speech
To learn more about the different areas in which Text-to-Speech technology can be used, visit our Text-to-Speech Areas of Application page. And to learn more about the products we offer, visit our Text-to-Speech Products page.
If you’re interested in adding Text-to-Speech software to your application or would like to learn more about TTS, please fill out our Sales Inquiry form and one of our friendly team members will be happy to help.