Now not only can you talk to your computer, but it can talk back! With the latest in text to speech software you can have your computer read out loud to you. This is useful for proofreading your text, learning languages, or enabling you to multi-task. You can even convert your documents to MP3 files so that you can listen to them later when you are for example driving in the car or doing the ironing.
For people who are visually impaired this type of software is wonderful. They can have the computer read out loud from websites or documents as they wish. As this software is aimed at the regular market it is much cheaper at around $30 for the basic version of for example Text Speaker than specially designed software.
Combined with voice recognition software and a microphone someone who is visually impaired can ask the computer to do web searches, read out the latest news or weather, and even get it to tell them the time.
For the top of the range Talking Desktop system which combines both text to speech and voice recognition software the price including a headset is around $140. This software can even recognize when someone enters the room! A simple version of another program, the Natural Reader, is available as a free trial download while the high end developer version costs around $300. These programs even allow you to scan documents into your computer and have the text to speech software read it for you.
This is a real breakthrough for the visually impaired and for people with physical impairments who find manipulating the mouse or keyboard difficult. It means that people in this situation can now compete on a more equal footing in the business community without having to pay large sums for specially designed software.
These types of programs can operate with male or female voices and with a variety of accents from American and British English to Indian or Australian English. And of course with the high end versions you can change them whenever you wish. The software also operates in other languages so you can even get the computer to read to you in, for example, Spanish or French.
You can also set the program so that it will speak in a different voice for each person using the computer. The voices sound very natural and reasonably realistic although depending on the text the voices are reading there may be some jerkiness from time to time. However the technology will only get better.
With your computer proofreading your documents for you out loud or telling you the news headlines you can save time because as a home office worker you can get on with a few domestic chores while you listen. This type of software is also very helpful for people who suffer from dyslexia or other reading difficulties. And of course you can even get your computer to read your children a story while you get on with the supper!
If you use text to speech software combined with the latest in voice recognition software you may never need to type or use your computer screen again. You may even find yourself having what feels like a conversation with your computer. You might even end up treating it as if it were a person!