Now out -- SPO256 "Alternative"

A few months ago I mentioned I had learned about the development of a
new, low-cost speech synthesis chip that could largely replace the old
General Instruments SPO256. Unfortunately, I soon later learned the
company was a few months away from releasing it, so I couldn't provide
more information.
Today the product is officially announced. It is the SpeakJet, a $24.95
self-contained chip that not only replicates the human voice, but does
sound effects as well -- R2-D2 stuff, and more.
One of the developers is Scott Savage, who some of you may know as the
creator of the popular OOPic microcontroller. Scott has recently moved
to developing products like the SpeakJet on a full-time basis, and if
the quality and uniqueness of the SpeakJet is any indication, he will be
able to retire a very rich man!
Do note that the SpeakJet is "controller agnostic" and does not in the
least require an OOPic. You can use just about anything to control the
speech.
I will be doing some articles on the SpeakJet for publication, and more
information on the product can be found at
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Incidentally, I am in no way connected with Scott's endeavor, though I
have known him for quite some time. Consider this post a friendly "heads
up" that the product I partially let out of the bag a few months ago is
finally available!
-- Gordon
Author: Constructing Robot Bases,
Robot Builder's Sourcebook, Robot Builder's Bonanza
Reply to
Gordon McComb
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Forgot to mention -- the SpeakJet is is IMO "Flash hell" and so far I don't see an HTML alternative. It's pretty, but I yearn for a simple text page. (Maybe Scott will read this and consider adding some HTML to complement the Flash... )
-- Gordon Author: Constructing Robot Bases, Robot Builder's Sourcebook, Robot Builder's Bonanza
Reply to
Gordon McComb
The site you listed appears to be down, but from the link a previous poster provided, here's a sample of the sound from this thing:
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Oh man! This is out of this world! Prepare for a NEW era of random everyday objects around every tinkerer's house spouting off sentences and sound effects. Makes me wonder why speech chips ever vanished.
Reply to
Garrett Mace
Maybe a lot of people visiting? (I just tried it and it seems okay.) You might also try:
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Magnevation is the other developer (a friend from Scott's NASA days), and from what I understand, the chip is being distributed through them.
Funnily enough, the SPO256 technology was sold to Microchip when that company bought the assets to General Instrument. The SPO256 was one of the very earliest "PIC" chips (along with some other serial peripheral interface controllers GI made). The SpeakJet is based on a PIC, so we're back full circle.
No doubt the SPO256 also had lots of analog stuff on its die, which made synthesis easier. Where the film for the die went no one seems to know. It is no simple task to reproduce the human vocal tract 100% digitally, and Scott and his co-developers have been working on this for a very long time. I started talking with Scott about it back in 1999.
-- Gordon Author: Constructing Robot Bases, Robot Builder's Sourcebook, Robot Builder's Bonanza
Reply to
Gordon McComb
Just bought one,
Very excited.
Mike
Reply to
Blueeyedpop
Hi Gordon,
I have the SpeakJet along wiht information and documentation in a non-flash format on my site
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It might a little easier on the eyes.
Thanks, Ken
Reply to
Kenneth Lemieux
Me too.
Plus you get the bonus SPO256... :) -- D. Jay Newman
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Reply to
D. Jay Newman
Wow. I'd been wondering why no one had ginned up a software-only replacement for the SPO -- it seemed intuitively obvious that by this time, some of the higher-end PIC processors ought to be able to handle the load. But it would appear the problem is more complicated than I had thought. Heh -- I suspect that SpeakJet chips will shortly outrank drum sets on the "things not to buy my kid" lists of the parents of young experimenters....
Reply to
SkyeFire
Scott used to work for NASA and Jeff at Magnevation still does. I don't think Speech Systhesis is a simple task. It took them 5 years of development (in their spare time, I assume.)
> > > > > >No doubt the SPO256 also had lots of analog stuff on its die, which made > >synthesis easier. Where the film for the die went no one seems to know. > >It is no simple task to reproduce the human vocal tract 100% digitally, > >and Scott and his co-developers have been working on this for a very > >long time. I started talking with Scott about it back in 1999. > > Wow. I'd been wondering why no one had ginned up a software-only > replacement for the SPO -- it seemed intuitively obvious that by this time, > some of the higher-end PIC processors ought to be able to handle the load. But > it would appear the problem is more complicated than I had thought. > Heh -- I suspect that SpeakJet chips will shortly outrank drum sets on the > "things not to buy my kid" lists of the parents of young experimenters....
Reply to
Kenneth Lemieux

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