Winbond Electronics Corporation America, a leading supplier of semiconductor solutions, today introduced the WTS701, the industry’s first single chip IC that converts Text-To-Speech (TTS). The IC uses a concatenation algorithm combined with Winbond’s proprietary Multi-Level Storage (MLS) technology, providing a significant advancement in this technology by enabling OEMs to provide TTS functionality to applications that utilize minimal computing and memory resources. This means that TTS is now available without using microprocessors, PCs or computers. Completely programmable, the chip is capable of supporting any number of languages. Initially, U.S. English and Mandarin are available. The WTS701 is currently available for sampling and is priced at under $10.00 U.S. in volume quantities. Volume quantities are expected to be available in first quarter of 2002.
The WTS701 accepts ASCII (Unicode for Mandarin language) input via a serial SPI port and converts this to spoken audio via an analog output or digital CODEC output. The chip features a small footprint, making it ideal for a wide variety of communications and consumer applications that can be enhanced with text-to-speech synthesis. Among many applications, the chip can be used to read email, SMS messages, instant messages, Web pages, news, weather, sports, and stock quotes; as well as to deliver e-commerce information or directions with the aid of a GPS location device or other network. It may also be used in learning-aids, products for the visually impaired, e-books, toys and other entertainment devices.
TTS chip solutions on the market today typically employ speech synthesis based on computer-generated models. The WTS701 creates a more natural human sounding speech by converting text to speech using recorded human speech samples. This ensures that the output is a recognizable human voice, unlike computer-generated synthesis. Processing for the WTS701 is performed by, ‘concatenating’ pre-stored acoustic elements into words. The chip contains two memory arrays; one for the acoustic library and one for the processor program, enabling user customization for special characters such as SMS icons or chat emoticons.
The WTS701 also offers a number of other features including an A/D converter for sending audio data over an audio PCM bus, and speaker driver circuitry for analog outputs. Device characteristics include +2.7 to 3.3 Volt power supply, low power consumption, 56 pin TSOP package and an industrial temperature range of minus 40 degrees to 85 degrees Celsius. The WTS701 is platformindependent and will connect to any baseband DSP or host controller using a simple serial interface. This enables OEMs to reduce time to market while offering a low-resource, single-chip solution for embedded applications.
The small size and low power consumption enable the WTS701 to be easily integrated into such applications as mobile phones, hands-free accessories and other mobile devices, with minimal effect on power consumption or development time. Many applications currently on the market today feature very small display screens that are unsafe for viewing as users often access information while driving.