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Software Microsoft The Almighty Buck

Thai Students Score a Prize For Speech Software 77

Julie188 writes "A team of four Thai students beat out 10,000 competitors to win the $25,000 prize in the Microsoft 2007 Imagine Cup. Their project is text-to-speech software in which computers read aloud typed and handwritten commands. The software will allow people who can't read to interact with a PC. Imagine Cup judge Rand Morimoto has been blogging on the whole experience — from his video of the opening ceremonies to how contestants swilled free Cokes to keep themselves awake during the 24-hour, no-sleep phase of the competition."
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Thai Students Score a Prize For Speech Software

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  • Like this [apple.com]?

    -:sigma.SB

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Yep, they just won $25,000 from Microsoft for Reinventing the wheel! [wikipedia.org]. I first saw this technology demonstrated on the TI99/4a in 1979- 28 years ago!
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by El Lobo ( 994537 )
      Oh, you mean like THIS [microsoft.com]. Sorry, boy but Apple seems to be starting their photocopyers a little too late. This feature has been included in XP since forever.

      Back on topic: the problem is not reinventing the wheel. I'm sure those kids wrote a hell of an algorithm ot one or two great ideas. Nobody gives money for free, and I'm sure they deserved it.

      • by Otter ( 3800 )
        Sorry, boy but Apple seems to be starting their photocopyers a little too late. This feature has been included in XP since forever.

        It's been in Mac OS since long before XP, maybe even before Windows 95. One of the later System 7 versions had it, IIRC.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Solra Bizna ( 716281 )

        ...MacInTalk came with late versions of System 6. Also, what the crap does text-to-speech synthesis have to do with full interaction for the visually impaired? Did you even click on my link? _-_

        -:sigma.SB

      • Well I had this on my Amiga in the 80s.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AmigaOS#Speech_synthe sis [wikipedia.org]
      • Narrator in Windows is just designed to do enough to enable you to get a proper screen reader installed. VoiceOver on the Mac is designed to *be* your screen reader.
    • Win XP had a text-to-speech processor back when I was doing XP installs in high school, more than 8 years ago. (we fiddled with accessibility options a few times for special needs users) Who copies who now? :)
  • by Archtech ( 159117 ) on Monday August 13, 2007 @04:36PM (#20216433)
    "The software will allow people who can't read to crash Vista..."
    • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday August 13, 2007 @06:09PM (#20217597) Journal
      Funny, but I gotta ask if someone can't read, shouldn't we be teaching them to read instead of making it easier for them to get by without reading? I guess this would still be good for the blind though.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Phroggy ( 441 )
        While they're learning to read, wouldn't it be nice if they could hear text spoken to them at the same time that it appears on the screen?
      • This enables people to learn to read without additional teaching resources. There doesn't only have to be a single solution to a problem. Nobody learns to read overnight, this would help those still learning to read during their years of study. With handwriting recognition, it could help people learning to write as well. It has potential to be the tutor for when your teachers aren't around.
    • An open-source reading program is probably as close as most Thais will get to free speech, especially where the King is concerned.

      (It needs to be said. I'll gladly take the -1 off-topic hits.)
  • I'm not sure Microsoft should be gaging text->voice software with their track record with voice->text software. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Y_Jp6PxsSQ [youtube.com]
  • article (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kenji DRE ( 1020807 ) on Monday August 13, 2007 @04:41PM (#20216513)
    I can't find anywhere in the article mentioning about the Thai students.....
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by FRiC ( 416091 )
      The blog only talks about the IT Challenge category, which is about maintaining and using Windows. The Thai students won the Software Design category. The complete list of winners is here [microsoft.com].
  • Test input (Score:4, Funny)

    by LMacG ( 118321 ) on Monday August 13, 2007 @04:42PM (#20216523) Journal
    I wonder what this system says when the input text is "Dear aunt, let's set so double the killer delete select all"?
  • by Dancindan84 ( 1056246 ) on Monday August 13, 2007 @04:42PM (#20216529)
    Cancel or Allow?
  • Rob Miles a lecturer from Hull, UK has also been
    blogging the event.

    http://www.robmiles.com/ [robmiles.com]

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/robertmiles/110370355 0/ [flickr.com]
  • Expect to see this as part of the upcoming Vista Service Pack.

    And in other news, Microsoft sponsors 5,000 Thai programmers with H1B visas. Microsoft also announced today the 'temporary layoff' of 7,500 current programmers. Company accountants claim this move will save the Company approximately 25 million dollars per quarter, allowing it to further aquire intellectual properties ranging from 'the wheel' to 'the zipper' to 'velcro', products that should increase the Company's bottom line to ludacrous profi

    • I didn't see you winning any competitions lately...

      If these guys are better and it is legal to hire them, why would anyone chose you instead?
  • More useful links... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Monday August 13, 2007 @04:45PM (#20216567) Journal
    Not that the absence of any information in the linked blog about the winning project has kept people from idiotic disparagement of it, but for those who like to know a little about what they're idiotically disparaging:

    Imagine Cup home page [imaginecup.com]

    Press release [microsoft.com] about the winners

    • by mscoder610 ( 891681 ) on Monday August 13, 2007 @07:15PM (#20218419) Homepage
      I just came back from the Imagine Cup software design competition, and I saw the presentations for the top 6 software design finalists. More details about the Software Design part of the Imagine Cup:
      • The "24 hours straight through" part of the story doesn't apply to Software Design. It applies to some other of the challenges like Algorithms, Photography, and Short Film.
      • Software Design teams came up with the idea themselves (to improve education), and had multiple months to work on it.
      • Thailand's winning solution isn't just a text-to-speech thing, as the story implies. What it basically does is: Someone with their program and a webcam can place any book in front of the webcam. Their solution not only applies the text-to-speech stuff (for people who can't read the words), but it also tries to make the book more "visual". On a single page, it basically looks through each sentence for the main ideas of it, i.e. actions and verbs. Then it tries to show those ideas visually, with a picture or video. It was a pretty neat project.
      Hopefully that clears things up a little. I looked around for a page with a full description of their project, but I wasn't able to find one.
  • Microsoft announces that due to the success of the "let programmers drink loads of coke to induce 24h no-sleep phases", this has now been implemented into the standard work-week at Microsoft to increase production.

    They now hope to have Vista SP1 out within the next 48 hours, and while SP1 is installing it will now speak out what it patches.
  • The software will allow people who can't read to interact with a PC

    First you bring VB to the world and let those who shouldn't develop ANYTHING software wise do so... now your plan is to let idiots who can't even read to use a computer? And we wonder why the computing world is a bog of what it once was...
  • Thai students......speech software....there's a joke in there somewhere
  • correct me if I'm wrong but isn't that what the narrator in WinXP does? How is this new and innovative? Text-to-speech has been out for years!
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The version in XP sucks, badly, so badly in fact that the blind end up paying around 600 dollars for software that works. The stuff in Vists is actually a bit better. But not by enough. Microsoft really needs to integrate better software into Vista, or at least offer something that doesn't cost more than say, a monitor.

      Linux, incidentally, is supposed to be halway decent with it's built in text-to=speech, but is suffering badly due to lack of driver support for the current generation of harware accessabi
    • Narrator is only meant to give you enough access to install a real screen reader. Still, what the post describes this as is not really innovative, but from other comments and the name of the project ('Project LiveBook!') it sounds like this is more about reading books than acting like a screen reader.
  • Windows Accessibility ++
  • The same reason you reward a student with a C average who gets a B, and try to encourage a A average student who gets a B to do better next time.
  • scribd, festival (Score:3, Informative)

    by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Monday August 13, 2007 @05:34PM (#20217171) Homepage
    There's an FOSS text-to-speech system called festival, which sounds robotic, but intelligible. There's a debian package.

    For better free-as-in-beer text-to-speech, try scribd.com. If you upload some text there, they'll automatically make an audio version, and I thought the quality was amazingly good. (If the text is copyrighted, you can set it to be available only to yourself.)

  • They could have bought a 1992 Macintosh.
  • 25 grand is a lot more relative money in Thailand. That's like a year's salary if not more there. This is kind of outsourcing in disquise.
    • It is 3 times more then my year's salary I am currently making as a web developer in Bangkok.
    • yes, it is a lot of money, and I believe they deserved it, I saw the kind of competition these guys had (two teams from my college had made it to the final round), and FFS, I cant beleive that you are comparing this to outsourcing, technically it is outsourcing but not in the sense of the word as used in pop-media.

      no one stopped any one else from applying to the competiotion, if you had applied and done a better job of it than them, the 25K would have been yours.
  • ...computers read aloud typed and handwritten commands. The software will allow people who can't read to interact with a PC They'll still need to be able to write, though. Of course this has its uses for the visually impaired.

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