Thursday, February 08, 2007

Afternoon Day One Vista Labs Beijing

Today we heard from Nicholas White from Redmond. Nick has an interesting role in that he works with all Non Traditional Media, i.e. like this blog! He is a great guy that some of you may recognise (virtually) as the author of the and an active organiser on The Hive. While the Vista blog is not overly "techy" it does delve into some subjects quite well. A white paper that Nick wrote really caught my attention regarding Direct X 10 (DX10) so if you're interested and want to read more on Direct X 10 go to this white paper. DX10 will ONLY be available on Vista and will ship as part of a Windows Update shortly (not sure if I'm allowed to say that).

Richer scenes and complex environments

Picture 6: Windows Vista wallpaper rendered in DirectX9

Picture 7: Windows Vista wallpaper rendered in DirectX10

Then there was a surprisingly enthusiastic presentation by Microsoft China's DPE General Manager named Nigel Burton. He gave a personal account of major Corporations and Chinese Companies working to develop "rich" mobile user experiences. I am not sure how NDA this is so I will not go into it further however if you are a developer and think you have a killer application for a mobile device then maybe contact Nigel as he has an active market place waiting for you!

For me, the highlight of the day was Binggong Don, of Microsoft China, who gave a great talk on Text-to-Speech (TTS) in Windows Vista. While Windows XP only had one language supported (English) it seems that TTS has added Chinese too. XP had a voice in it called Sam while Vista's launch will see Anna added and in Chinese our Asian counterparts will get a chance to hear from Lili! Here is brief history of TTS up to the present date:

Seems like TTS has been of interest for a long time...way before Vista

  • 1791: Speaking Machine was invented
  • 1939: Homer Duley Electronic Processing Sound Machine
  • 1992: Speech Team Created
  • 1998: Product Group Formed
  • 2000: Division-level investment (SAM, Worked on XP)
  • Today: shipped fully packed in Vista, brand new TTS engine in Windows Vista. Microsoft China innovated next wave of TTS system.

The interesting thing about TTS I that it is not created by a massive database of words stored and cut/pasted together. Firstly it is created by Text Analysis, then Unit Selection and finally Wave Generation. In the first portion the word needs to be broken down into pronunciation and Normalization. The second portion of the equation takes the best "most suitable" candidate of each sound, then places it into a combination of sounds that help generate the intended word , e.g. an "E" sound may differ dramatically in different words, so via the above mentioned algorithm TTS plays a role in judging how and when to best describe that "E". Finally the wave generation portion takes into account the word formation as best practice while forming Sounds Waves, i.e. inflections.

You think that sounds complicated?!?! You try explaining it! LOL...OK guys, I'm off to bed after having a banquet/feast at a very classy restaurant! Let me know if you want me to chase anything else up for you.


CTitanic said...

Good Job Hugo!

Try to find the makers of device. They are probably there!

Hugo Ortega said...

Thanks Frank!

I am trying to hunt done these but you would be surprised how "quiet" the companies are! I'll surely post images or video if I find anything.

I have Vista Labs tomorrow but will spend 2 full days looking around town after stay tuned.

Elo said...

I would put Bell Laboratories in there as the first complete Text-to-Speech system was built there in the 60s. But Hey, its not a history class and it`s their show!

Hugo Ortega said...

Thanks Elo, I was hoping someone would ad to this. I find it fascinating.

Elo said...

Well, just for fun, we all remember the iconic HAL 9000 from the Kubrick`s Movie based on a novel from Arthur C. Clarke. Well, Clarke was inpired in creating the infamous HAL 9000 after a visit to Bell Laboratories and seeing the Text-to-Speech system in action. An IBM computer was reproducing the song Daisy Bell. That`s the same song HAL 9000 was singing as he was being put in sleep mode by Dave in the story. How cool is that ?
That story is very interesting to read.

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