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BRISTOL, U.K.: A consortium of public and private concerns in Great Britain has developed text-to-speech technology for digital TV set-top boxes. Ocean Blue Software, in conjunction with the Royal National Institute of Blind People, STMicroelectronics and TW Electronics created the product to target the growing population of sight-impaired folks.

Talking TV provides speech-based TV programming guides, set-up menus and program narratives. Ocean Blue says menu layouts and items “are clearly described by voice.”

“Advanced features include the ability to change the verbosity of the speech, filtering by programs that contain subtitles and/or audio description, and the choice of the font size and contrasting color scheme; allowing the system to be customized to suit the user’s impairment, experience and digital TV awareness,” the company said.

Talking TV is compatible with the U.K.’s popular Freeview over-the-air service. Korean electronics manufacturer Arion Technology is incorporating the software into set-tops that are expected to become available in August.

Ocean Blue has a video demonstration of Talking TV. (Be forewarned of the cloying narration.)
-- Deborah D. McAdams