Movie star voices recreated to produce story narration for braille books

Lim Chang-won Reporter() | Posted : September 23, 2020, 10:30 | Updated : September 23, 2020, 10:30

Actress Han Ji-min[Han Ji-min's Instagram]

SEOUL -- The voices of two movie stars in South Korea have been recreated for the production of story narration that goes into braille sense books for the blind, using a text-to-speech translation technology based on deep learning and artificial intelligence that enables rapid speech synthesis by analyzing and learning a corpus.

SK C&C, the provider of system integration, consulting and information technology outsourcing services, forged a strategic partnership with Lion Rocket, a startup that developed AI-based voice synthesis technology, to commercialize an AI text-to-speech (TTS) translation technology by combining natural language processing and text-to-text voice translation technologies.

The AI TTS technology can analyze the characteristics of a speaker's voice, tone, accent and pronunciation with 20-minute-long recorded data and reads any sentence naturally, SK C&C said, adding that it can be applied to produce content such as audiobooks, education and entertainment YouTube contents.

For their first joint project, the two companies worked with the state-run National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage to recreate the voices of actor Lee Byung-hun and actress Han Ji-min for the production of story commentary grafted into braille books for introducing natural monuments for the blind. The so-called multi-medical braille sense books are filled with contents that can be used and communicated by blind and non-disabled people, such as pictures, sounds, narration and music.

Unlike conventional text-to-speech conversion technology, which divides voice into consonants and vowels, AI TTS enables rapid speech synthesis by analyzing and learning a corpus, SK C&C said. Famous characters who already have a recording file can generate a voice at the same time as typing a text without recording.

The two sides would jointly explore domestic and foreign content markets in cultural and educational sectors and develop new businesses that utilize Hallyu (Korean cultural wave) stars and read books for ordinary people and children.

"We will create a natural voice that conveys vivid emotions and impressions through TTS," Lion Rocket CEO Jung Seung-hwan said in a statement, vowing to develop functions to automatically create foreign languages.

SK C&C's channel and marketing division head Lee Seok-jin said the strategic partnership with Lion Rocket would lead to the creation of various programs. "With this cooperation, we will make efforts to create programs that practice various social values and can contribute to improving education and cultural life for the blind."

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