Hackaday Prize Entry: Text To Speech The Hard Way

Studies have shown reading to children leads to improved academic performance later in life, a trait that will make them more competitive in the workforce, and ultimately happier human beings. It follows, then, that having a robot read to children will also lead to happier and more productive adults, while normalizing the cyborg uprising takeover of the AI apocalypse of 2037.

It’s a good thing the above paragraph is a complete non-sequitur and has nothing to do with this Hackaday Prize entry. The TextEye, [Markus]’ entry for the Assistive Technology portion of the Hackaday Prize, is a handheld device that translates the written word into speech, useful for anyone who either can’t see well or can’t read gooder. Yes, it will also read to children, but so did Teddy Ruxpin.

If you’re keeping track, this isn’t the first time [Markus] has entered this project in a Hackaday Prize contest. The first time was six months ago in the Hackaday / Adafruit Raspberry Pi Zero contest. [Markus] was inspired by a group of blind computer science students using specialized hardware that allowed them to study the same thing as everyone else.

Since the first few project logs, a lot has changed in this project. You can buy a Pi Zero easily, and the updated Pi Zero 1.3 now comes with a camera connector. [Markus] is swapping out his Pi Model A and USB webcam for the Pi Zero and Pi camera. The software remains the same — GraphicsMagick, Tesseract OCR, Festival and Wiring Pi handle reading text and turning those words into speech — with a slight refactoring of the code. It’s a great use for the Pi Zero, and an excellent example of an Assistive Technology, and we’re happy to see it again in the Hackaday Prize.

10 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize Entry: Text To Speech The Hard Way

  1. I have never seen any evidence that more education or more intelligence makes people happier.

    Some of the happiest people I know have never been to school and can neither read nor write.

    The desire to be “successful” is passed from parent to child because the parents wish it.

    1. ignorance is bliss, but bliss isn’t necessarily happiness.

      sure a lot of people who don’t usually think logically or critically about their everyday issues might answer a questionnaire as if they were more happy, but do they really know if they are or not?
      whereas if one recognizes one isn’t happy or there is an issue then one can take that into account and try to fix it.

    2. I say this with the utmost respect and well wishes for you, Get your head out of your ass.

      No, ability to progress through the education system has nothing to do with intelligence.
      Yes, it is possible to lead a successful and happy life at the upper end of the lower income class.
      But those people have worked and studied and learned and developed a set of skills over their lifetime that makes them unique. I’m not a Kentucky backwoods bootlegger, I’m not an over the road trucker, I’m not a civil engineer but I know who I want my booze from who I want to deliver it and who I want designing the bridges between here and there and I’d happily listen to any one ramble on about their work week over drinks.
      All those jobs require active thinking and good judgment, they are not stupid

      The mentally deficient on the other hand are not happy, in a world designed to catch the fully functional in a moment of weakness at any moment to sell them something, they are MERCILESSLY assaulted at every turn and essentially forced into poverty and debt by advertisements literally too alluring for them to resist.
      The World needs to learn that “Dumb” is a real disability and not just a lack of effective teaching.

  2. Well… the more you know the more you wonder about things.
    Sometimes I wish I don’t know some things at all. And most of the time it seems like the people who know less can be much happier. But this differs from person to person. Rich and successful is no guarantee for being happy.

    Watching television, reading books, surfing on the internet, it are all sorts of gathering information. Why are books so much better, sure there are crappy television shows and the internet is full of crap to (decide for yourself if hackaday fits into this category). But there are lot’s and lot’s of crappy books as well. So in short, it all depends on WHAT you are reading not THAT you are reading. And actually it isn’t reading, it’s the information. Reading has the power of imagination behind it, but that’s not always a good thing.
    Let’s say you are reading books, lot’s of them, you don’t watch TV, internet, newspapers. Then you information differs from the people around you. You have nothing to talk about, because nobody knows the details of what you read, so quickly that will make you an social outcast, nobody wants to talk to you anymore. They don’t understand you you don’t understand them. In what way will this make you happier.

    Statistics are useful but they are not sacred, it depends on how you look at things. I therefore like the joke about the statistic that drowned in a river with an average depth of only 90cm (or 3 feet, whatever you prefer). Isn’t the fact that people reading books, have a headstart in another way. The money to buy books, the ability to go to a university, the racial equality or being a minority in any other way.
    I’m certain that reading doesn’t make you a better person, I think it is the other way around, because people are happy (and have nothing else to do for whatever reason) they read a lot.
    Anyway statistics… I’m not a big fan.

    From a technical point of view… it is certainly a nice idea.

  3. yes but if you cant read, you cant read good or bad material. its also faster to read than to watch a video.
    A video though is not bad as it can enhance the experience through another medium.

  4. Getting parents to read to kids is just a trick to get the parents talking to them about more than just the basic things going on in the home, it is the exposure to a wider vocabulary in context that matters because it allows a more rapid association with the written words that the child will learn next. If you are teaching phonics to a kid with a small vocabulary it is very hard for them to make connections, because no matter how well they can decode a written word into sounds they can’t make the association to the spoken word and it’s meaning if they have not learned it first. After a while they can learn words from written text first, but then they can have problems with pronunciation until they have heard it spoken correctly, because English is a ridiculous hodgepodge of a language when it comes to pronunciation.

    For this reason I’d recommend looking into StarDict, particularly the voice recordings of words that you can download for it, if you look around hard enough. The entire thing can be set up to function “off-line”, or you could index and then access the word recordings directly if you feel like cutting the extra code required.

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