EMIC2 Text To Speech Module

This is the EMIC2 text-to-speech module. You can see from the logo on the bottom left it’s the latest gadget coming out of [Joe Grand’s] Grand Idea Studios. [Dino] tipped us off about his first experience with a prototype of the board. He’s driving it with an Arduino and the video after the break shows that the sound rendering is high quality and the words are very easy to understand. One of the things that we think is interesting is that the serial communications used to drive the board are not uni-directional. In fact, there’s a serial terminal that provides documentation on how to use the chip. Obviously this is most suited to the Arduino, which always has a PC-side terminal window available to it.

[Joe] himself shows some of the potential for the board. He gave new life to a broken toy by replacing its internals with a PIC-based circuit to drive the EMIC2. That video is also found after the break. He’s just using the demo clips, but from that you will get a good idea of the vocal modulations this device is capable of. The board rings up at $60 and is available from Parallax.

[Dino’s] introduction:

[Joe’s] project:

and it’s on sale now for about $60 for Parallax.

30 thoughts on “EMIC2 Text To Speech Module

    1. You priced one chip on the board at $5, and then complain about a $60 price. What about the rest of the parts, manufacturing, and R&D? It’s just not a fair thing to say.

      1. @reltham: the BOM for the Arduino is probably higher or at least close, yet it routinely sells for around $20 including profit, so to me the only thing that’s “not fair” is the $60 price. R&D? You do realize that the actual speech synthesis is all handled by the Epson IC? So that’s included in the $5, not the $60. And when you need speech in your project, you already use a separate microcontroller (like the Arduino), so to have a extra one on this board seems overkill. The epson has a SPI interface; how hard can it be to make it produce a sentence when that’s its entire raison d’etre.

      2. yes of course the Rpi was not 25$ as it is advertised, but 35€. (but still much less, and it also does not include only the chip)
        For the TTS software, there are many, even an add-on for firefox. One to look at is Festival
        there is a demo, try it.
        Todays TTS don’t sound like SciFi from the 70’s.
        But if you really want to spend $50, you can also hack a low cost GPS and get a color lcd for free :)

    2. I have tried and tried to get Parallax to help me with sample code for this. I want to interface it with the Microchip PIC. They just keep blowing me off. Does anyone know if there is any available sour code?

  1. It sounds really nice in the video – for a 1980’s synthesizer. However, the SPO256 is long gone.
    and the price – $60? really? For a speech synth? Parallax and Joe Grand should both hang their heads in shame.

  2. The Emic2 is out-of-the-bag-FUN. Super easy plug and play. The Arduino is writing text to the Emic2. It’s using a print function so the micro controller allows me to print phrases based on certain event triggers. I’m prototyping here so this setup makes it easy. At $60, for what it can deliver, I think it’s well worth it. I’ll be buying more in the future I’m sure. Robots need a voice too.. :)

    Stephen Hawking has become synonymous with this voice! Spend $60 and have some fun.

  3. The Emic2 unit is far too much for my wallet considering what it does. However, I fully understand why. Even so, if the price could be reduced to somewhere around $20, I would certainly get a few. Very neat devices. Someone need’s to make the reverse of this unit also. MUCH MUCH MUCH harder to pull of though.

  4. Complete (and unrelated) side-note on Dinos video; a “Prototype” Arduino? I was under the impression that all the old-school diecimilas had this silk-screen marking?

    I know my 3+ year old diecimila does, and I’m pretty sure I got that from eBay! Though it may just be the cheap re-sellers using those board files for their production…

  5. $60 is a fair price.. the TTS is robotic but yes, it’s easy from Epson… human sounding speech is a far more difficult task. Check this outhttp://www.textspeak.com/tts_em.htm . The TTS Embedded Chip module sounds just like a person. Cost is not for hobby, but rather for insudtrial apps @ $400

  6. If any of you guys can figure out how to develop the hardware, develop the embedded software, design the PCB (to professional standards), assemble the boards, package, market and support the product, pay the wages of all the folks involved, and bring it to market with a unit price of $20 …DO IT. I’ll buy half a dozen.

    $60 may seem steep to the average hobbiest, but for a turn-key supported solution, it’s a bargain.

  7. You know, these all work, but the TTS output is weak to my ear – given the raw HP of a modern atmega, how hard could it be? Anybody know what the maximum amount of ROM is on these things?

    (and yes, I know it’s not called ROM, but can you get these things with significant onboard storage yet? aka 1GB?)

  8. 60 dollars represents the engineering R an D plus product price you are paying for this product.Trust me that there are many applications for this nifty board where 60 bucks is cheap money to spend.60 dollars is way less than ONE HOUR of an engineering TECHNICIAN’S wages in NYS. Its relatively speaking a turn key solution to that portion of a project. Yeah there are theoretically cheaper components out there but you are going to work to implement them.THis 60 dollar module is for the folks that are NOT INTERESTED in play-penning in speech synthesis they want their project to have speech capability and want to move onto those aspects of their project that interest them more.Dont talk about “cost effective” unless you can counter EVERY scenario/engineering environment this board addresses.Its not for every project but is effective for many.

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