What you need to know
- Microsoft Azure AI technology is being used to create realistic voices for chatbots and digital experiences.
- The tech uses recordings of real voices and deep learning to create realistic digital voices.
- Microsoft discusses the importance of using the technology responsibly in its blog post.
Microsoft Azure AI technology is being used in new ways to help people interact with characters and chatbots. A blog post from Microsoft (opens in new tab) highlights how Azure tech is being used to create experiences ranging from interacting with Bugs Bunny in an AT&T Experience Store to conversing with the Flo chatbot from Progressive Insurance. In addition to sharing some examples of the tech in action, the post announces the general availability of the Azure Cognitive Service, Text to Speech (opens in new tab).
Many digital voices sound robotic and janky. Microsoft is trying to make this a thing of the past with neural text-to-speech technology. The technology uses recorded phrases and deep learning to create realistic digital voices.
Xuedong Huang, a Microsoft technical fellow and the chief technology officer of Azure AI Cognitive Services explains how the process works:
If all of this sounds a bit familiar, you may have seen coverage of Microsoft's patent for similar technology. The patent made the news because it the technology described within it could be used to create chatbots of dead people.
Microsoft is aware of the fact that technology like this could be used in creepy or dishonest ways, and it talks about transparency in its blog post. Access to the technology is limited and requires disclosure of how it will be used. Microsoft explains:
Another section of the blog post covers Microsoft's "commitment to responsibility" in regard to the technology:
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Perhaps the voice system can be used for hololens / surface glasses
benefit games too!
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