Synthetic Voice and Voice Cloning

With an expansion in the ways through which marketers find and target new audiences, companies need to maintain a recognizable and consistent identity across platforms.

The contemporary business world is steadily moving towards audio-only mediums like podcasts in addition to visual and audio-visual mediums like banner advertisements, videos, and social media posts.

Besides having a great, visually appealing logo, brands are increasingly feeling the need to have a unique audio identity as well.

Having a consistent voice across all audio platforms of marketing can help brands build trust with customers. And it is not only companies that require a brand audio identity. The need for an audio identity has been felt in the education and publishing sector as well.

With an ever-rising demand for quality audio content, there is an increase in the popularity of synthetic voices and voice cloning technology. 

What is Synthetic Voice?

Synthetic voice generation, also known as speech synthesis, is the artificial production of a natural-sounding human voice using a voice generator.

With the use of artificial intelligence and advanced software tools, it is possible to simulate human speech and create artificial voices that are nearly indistinguishable from real human voices. 

Recent developments in voice-generating technology have led to limitless possibilities when it comes to accents, tones, and voice traits.

Today, companies also have the privilege of creating their own custom voices to give their brands a unique edge in audio-based mediums. Different kinds of voices are preferred for different fields.

In the publishing field, emotive voice tones would be preferred, while toy manufacturers might be more inclined towards a friendly-sounding, sweet voice that would appeal to parents and children.

In the past, synthetic voices produced by voice generators used to have a distinct artificial tone.

However, the best synthetic voice generators available today are capable of producing voices that sound so human-like that an average person can’t distinguish between an actual human voice and a high-quality synthetic voice. 

What is Voice Cloning?

To a layperson, the terms synthetic voice and voice cloning may seem synonymous. However, they are different concepts.

Voice cloning is a process that creates a synthetic voice simulating the speech of a real individual, thereby creating a “clone” of their distinct voice.

The high-quality artificial intelligence and voice cloning technologies today are capable of creating a synthetic voice that is so similar to the speech of a specific person that it is almost indistinguishable to the average listener. 

How is Synthetic Voice or Voice Cloning Created?

Primarily, two modalities are used to create the outputs of voice content: Text to Speech (TTS) and Speech to Speech (STS).

TTS uses text to generate synthetic speech, while STS uses audio from a person’s voice to create a custom synthetic voice. There are tools available to transform a voice into different dialects, genders, and languages. 

There are mainly two approaches to TTS:

  • Concatenative TTS: This technology uses audio recordings of words and units of sound (phonemes) stored in a “library.” These words and phonemes can be strung together to form different audio structures. This method results in high-quality, intelligible sounds. However, the main drawback of concatenative TTS is that it lacks the emotive quality found in natural human speech. This method is not suitable for voice cloning though it works well for synthetic voice generators.
  • Parametric TTS: This is a methodology in which statistical speech models are used to create a voice. This is a more cost-effective method compared to concatenation. However, the results created using this technique might not be that great. 

Applications and Uses for Synthetic Voice and Voice Cloning 

The creation of synthetic voice and voice cloning using a voice generator has numerous applications in industries:

1. Assistive Technology

Synthetic voices are often used to assist people with visual, hearing, and learning disabilities. These are also of immense help to people who have disorders like Parkinson’s disease or ALS and have problems communicating with others.

Voice generators can greatly enhance such people’s ability to communicate using synthetic voices. 

2. Education 

Synthetic voices have multiple applications in education.

Advancements in voice generating and translation technologies have made it possible for teachers to connect with students across the globe and effortlessly communicate with them in their own languages.

It has also made education more accessible to students with disabilities which makes it difficult for them to communicate.

3. Audiobooks

Audiobooks are all the rage nowadays, and their success can be attributed to the creation of high-quality synthetic voices using voice generators.

Voice cloning technology can be used to create audiobooks narrated in the cloned voices of popular celebrities. 

4. Voice talent 

Voice generators can be a boon for voice actors and help them optimize their work.

Voice actors can take up work in multiple languages and use voice cloning and translation services for the same. This would open up newer work opportunities for them.  

5. Marketing 

The availability of synthetic voices gives companies the opportunity to build a unique audio voice that would complement their logo.

The use of the same standardized voice in all its marketing and branding platforms would help build a unified brand image.

Having a unique voice associated with the brand can go a long way in building customer trust. 

6. Customer service 

Customer support centres can help more customers by adopting synthetic voices for mundane services. There is great potential for synthetic voice technology in self-service kiosks, websites, and mobile apps.

The development of newer voice user interfaces in customer services opens up endless possibilities. 

What are the Risks Associated with Synthetic Voices and Voice Cloning?

While synthetic voices and voice cloning technologies have numerous amazing applications, they can also present considerable threats. Here are some of the potential misuses of these technologies:

  • Artificial Intelligence voice generators can be misused to enable phishing scams wherein an unsuspecting victim is made to believe they are talking to someone they trust.
  • Realistic-sounding synthetic voices can be used for voice biometric spoofing.
  • Voice cloning can be used to spread fake news and misinformation.
  • False pieces of evidence can be created using voice generators. 
  • Synthetic voices can be used for bullying and blackmailing. 

Closing Thoughts 

Synthetic voice generation and voice cloning are amazing technologies that are revolutionizing the fields of business, marketing, education, and entertainment.

The rapid advancement in these technologies is opening up new opportunities to explore across industries. However, synthetic voice generation and voice cloning also pose certain risks and threats.

Rigid security measures need to be implemented to optimize the use of voice synthesis technologies while minimizing the risks.