Getting stuck with an automated service when on the phone might just get a little bit more bearable, thanks to IBM.
The new technology, called 'generating paralinguistic phenomena via markup in text-to-speech syntheses', gives the machine voice more human attributes, such as verbal tics, sighing, or even coughing to get your attention.
Andy Aaron, of IBM's Thomas J Watson research group speech team, said, "These sounds can be incredibly subtle, even unnoticeable, but have a profound psychological effect. It can be extremely reassuring to have a more attentive-sounding voice... When you are on the telephone on an automated service helping you fix your computer or buy insurance, this could make the difference between being a happy customer or hanging up and canceling a service."
Aaron was quick to assuage any fears that this technology might be used to replace actual people, saying, "We are almost at the point where the voice is indistinguishable from a human, but that is not our goal. We don't want to fool anybody."
Source: The Telegraph