Aristech GmbH wins speech-technology call for bids by OEBB

Im Aufnahmestudio für eine Corporate VoiceAristech has established its expertise in speech-technology once and again and has asserted itself in the face of internationally reputable competitors. The company will in future equip the Austrian National Railways (OEBB) with text-to-speech (TTS) technologies. To do this, a voice will be exclusively cloned, that is digitalised in both English and German so that it is hardly distinguishable from its natural speaker. The use of this innovative technology provides OEBB with flexibility and long-term cost reductions. For Aristech, it is yet another milestone in the success story of the young, aspiring company.

Passengers in Austrian stations might recognise the voice used for announcements: it’s the prominent actress Chris Lohner, whose voice has been the figurehead of OEBB for 34 years before it’s been changed to a much less popular version. Back then, single recordings of Miss Lohner were used to make announcement, which meant that new recordings were necessary for each newly implemented announcement. This is about to change. OEBB wants to employ modern high-end speech technology in order to permanently employ Lohner’s voice for a plethora of different announcements. Aristech won the call for bids with their software solution.

In this project, synthetic voices will be created from studio recordings of Chris Lohner. Aristech is taking special care to cater for individual customer’s needs. “We are convinced that intensive, customer-specific preparations and personal attendance at the recordings contributes greatly to quality of the results,” says project manager Carolin Mende. “For this, Aristech is at a clear advantage over other speech technology companies thanks to its combination of experience and great flexibility.”

Using sophisticated software technologies, a digital voice will be built from studio recordings. This voice will then be used for so-called text-to-speech (TTS) systems. These systems convert written text into an audible output, which is spoken by Chris Lohner’s digital voice. Changes and adaptions can be realised with a mouse click.

Within the scope of this bid, OEBB is planning on gradually replacing old announcement systems on platforms, in busses, trains and even in call centres. In order to ensure accessibility, Aristech’s digital voice will also be heard from ticket machines and on the OEBB website.

Aristech collaborates with British CereProc Ltd, which has developed TTS-systems in a long-term cooperation with the renowned University of Edinburgh. Vienna based Connecting Media GmbH acts as Aristech’s local partner.