[AI] Talking TV?!

pradeep banakar pradeepsocialwork at gmail.com
Thu Jul 1 10:22:52 EDT 2010

World's first talking TV now a reality

June 8th, 2010 - 13:36 UTC
by Andy Sennitt.

TVs that can talk to their owners are now a reality thanks to British high-tech company, Ocean Blue Software. Expected in UK stores by the end of the summer, the company's low cost text-to-speech technology, dubbed "Talk at TV", is being built into set top boxes from Korean company, Arion Technology, which will be branded and distributed by major retailers in the UK from August.

The new set top boxes are like regular Freeview or satellite boxes, but will be able to talk to their blind or partially-sighted owners - advising, via speech technology, the TV programming schedule, for example what's on and when. Owners will be able to adjust the speed and verbosity of the voice to suit their needs, choose to enlarge or reduce font sizes and change background and text colours. A re-designed and easy to use remote control will also be included.

The technology has been developed in partnership with digital TV chip giant, STMicroelectronics, whose processors lie at the heart of most TVs and set top boxes. Phase two of the development will introduce voice activation technology to allow owners to talk back to their TV sets - "channel up", "channel down", "volume up".

"The digital switchover has multiplied the number of channels to 40 plus, for UK consumers, making navigation very difficult for the visually impaired," said Ken Helps, CEO of Ocean Blue Software. "This technology is a step forward to making digital TV accessible to all sectors of the community".

Ocean Blue's Talk at TV will be available in different languages and dialects; the UK version supports both the Scottish Gaelic and Welsh language for example. The technology behind Talk at TV is a derivative of the pioneering work and development between the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) and Ocean Blue over the last three years. The development won an IABM Award for Excellence in Design and Innovation, was nominated for a Royal Television Society award and shortlisted for an IMS TV Innovation award in the USA.

The Arion Talking set top box will be available in a number of UK retailers.

(Source: Ocean Blue Software/Arion Technology)

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