Over the last decade, voice technology has been an ever-growing business. Alexa, Suri, Cortana, and Bixby are just a few of the multiple voice applications, many of us use in our day-today lives.
However, all of these innovative creations began somewhere, and that’s with the human voice.
The launch of this new voice technology works with experienced voice talents, who record a list of specialist scripted words and sentences spoken with different enunciations. From this, the computerised system can create a variety of phrases, with different forms of emotion.
‘We create hyper-realistic artificial voices. Unlike other text-to-speech companies, we specialise in subtleties and nuance, giving voice acting on demand, essentially.’ Zeena Qureshi, Sonantic’s chief executive. The Times.
Sonactic claims to be cheaper and less time consuming that hiring a voiceover artist to read your script, but while these computer-generated voices may be suitable to replace the human-voice in videogames and film, it is questionable whether an artificial voice could ever work to mimic a human within corporate films and commercials.
Similar inventions such as Jukedeck (2012) also allow the consumer to manipulate voice and sound through technology. Created by innovative composer Ed Netwon-Rex, Jukedeck’s patented software offers autonomously composed original music on demand, allowing non-musicians to easily create rights-cleared music in seconds.
In 2019, Jukedeck was acquired by ByteDance, the company behind social media giant TikTok, where Ed is the the European Product Director.
Working at the heart of one of the world’s most popular social media platforms, Ed is well placed to speak about AI and creativity, digital disruption and the dynamic changes across the digital media landscape.
These technological advancements are evident that there is a market for AI voices, however, in their latest podcast, voiceover artists Nicola and Leah discuss the rise of AI in voiceover, speaking to the creator behind Faith, another AI voice that can replicate human emotion.
“While the technology is quite impressive (and certainly a step forward from the disjointed delivery of other text-to-speech voices on the market) it was interesting to hear how much work had gone into developing just one single voice, and for it still to sound – as Leah put it – “computery”.
“What made this episode interesting and engaging was that they were speaking to an actual person about the work she had done. Had they interviewed the technology, we’d have all switched off. “
“It’s fine to get Alexa to read back your shopping list, but she’s never been in your kitchen for company.“
So why won’t these AI voices take over the role of the human voice? It’s simple… hiring a professional voiceover artist offers authenticity and a valued relationship between client and artist. And while there’s no denying that AI and the digital space is greatly influencing sound technology, it’s evident that nothing (at least not quite yet) can fully replicate raw human emotion and connectivity in voiceover.
Will an artificial voice ever have the true same vocal emotion and ability to connect with an audience as a human does? – I guess only time will tell!
Emma– The (human) Voice of London Buses & the Elizabeth Line
When Tech & Human Collide; Jennifer – the Voice of The Apple Store Phoneline
Nikki D. – Popular Tech/Gadget Presenter and Voiceover Artist. Perfect for those trickier technical read!