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Thursday, August 15, 2019

In China, Sogou creates more natural voices for audio books thanks to artificial intelligence

After the TV presenters and even a virtual judge, the Chinese search engine Sogou will propose avatars of authors of novels for audio books, in partnership with Zhangyue Technology.
The audio book market is booming in China. To meet the demand in a qualitative way, the Chinese search engine Sogou (subsidiary of Tencent) wants to apply artificial intelligence techniques. He announced on August 9, at the China Online Literature Conference (COL +), the project of intelligent professional avatar Yanny. It combines speech synthesis, image recognition and predictive capabilities to create realistic avatars.

 More natural synthetic voices

Proof of its effectiveness: the keynote of the COL + conference was itself presented by an avatar using Yanny. The interest of applying artificial intelligence to the world of audio books is to improve the quality of reading. Indeed, most readers already offer a voice synthesis option for any work, but the quality leaves something to be desired. Customers prefer to listen to the voices of authors, actors or other personalities when they "consume" a book.

But creating audio books read by professionals, or even by the authors themselves, is long and expensive. The synthesizing of their voice is a much more economical solution that can be applied on a large scale. To implement the technology, Sogou has also announced a partnership with Zhangyue Technology, which markets the iReader eReader. At first, two Chinese authors, Yue Guan and Bu Xin Shang Tian Diao Xian Bing, will be represented by digital look-alikes. The availability date of this service has not been specified.

Many realistic avatar projects

This is not the first project of this type led by Sogou. The company had already introduced in 2018, alongside the Xinhua government news agency, two virtual TV presenters with voices and expressions close to those of human beings, who still regularly officiate on Xinhua's website. .

The company, which claims to be the second largest mobile search engine in China, also took advantage of COL + to announce the participation of a virtual facilitator, Xin Xiaomeng, in the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. next october. And in June, the company created the first virtual judge in the world, which allows online disputes to be resolved in real time.

Finally, it has partnered with Abu Dhabi Media to launch the first Arabic-speaking virtual presenter. "We are convinced that our professional avatars will allow more natural interactions between man and machine," she says, "and we will continue to focus on artificial intelligence applied to language."

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