Text-to-speech program to give Roger Ebert his voice back

As a tragic complication after cancer surgery, legendary film critic Roger Ebert lost the ability to speak. He relies on handwritten notes and a computer that synthesizes what he types. For most people, this would result in a life dependent on a random text-to-speech computerized voice. We've all had fun picking the voices for our GPS systems, but imagine if this was all you had to represent yourself?

Interestingly for Ebert, there is a Scottish company, CereProc, with a fascinating option. There are hours and hours of recordings of Ebert's voice, from years of TV shows and numerous DVD commentaries. CereProc is combing through all those recordings to create a database of his voice for his daily vocabulary. According to CereProc, the average American uses about 2,000 words a day. Many words it can't find already recorded can be pieced together from syllables of other words.

CereProc has been able to create libraries for people who knew they were going to lose their voice and could pre-record their vocal database. In Ebert's case, he's fortunate that there are already a wealth of recordings of his voice. That is, if you can call anything about Ebert's tragic situation fortunate.

Via Esquire Magazine