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Apple wins new patent on text-to-speech conversion

updated 04:25 pm EDT, Tue October 11, 2011

Could be linked to replacing Nuance

The US Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple a new patent for a text-to-speech conversion process. Titled Multi-unit approach to text-to-speech synthesis, the patent describes a way of matching units from an input string to an audio library. An important inclusion is metadata, such as articulation relationships, which can inform a processor how to make phrases sound more natural. The software should also support a client-server architecture, allowing remote processing.

The patent could indicate that Apple eventually wants to rely on its own text-to-speech technology, rather than use licensed code from Nuance. Nuance's work is believed to form a smaller portion of Siri, the voice command system present on the iPhone 4S. The Nuance technology may also be present in OS X Lion, which has significantly better synthesized speech than Snow Leopard.

Because Siri is modular, Apple could theoretically replace any Nuance components with its own once they're sufficiently developed. Apple has increasingly preferred to use its own hardware and software in recent years, even going to the extent of designing its own processors. This not only allows for custom-tailored products but makes them harder to copy, especially because Apple controls the ideas involved.

by MacNN Staff



  1. mjtomlin

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title

    "The Nuance technology may also be present in OS X Lion, which has significantly better synthesized speech than Snow Leopard."

    Uh, yeah. Not the case. Apple doesn't use Nuance for text-to-speech, but for speech-to-text. Apple has had text-to-speech since 1984 and have been ahead of the pack in voice synthesis since then.

  1. BigMac2

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Speech-to-text or text-to-speech

    Apple bring speech-to-text with the Macintosh Quadra AV series with the plaintalk mic in the early 90. Speech-to-text was indeed introduce with the original mac in 1984 and was adapt from an originally made version for the Apple IIe. I wonder what happen to other solutions such as Dragon speech.

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