Blizzard Challenge 2010

Since I was in TTS for a long time and still interested in in, I've been waiting a long for this - Blizzard Challenge team is ready to accept speech expert and volunteer listeners for the Blizzard Challenge 2010.

The challenge was devised in order to better understand and compare research techniques in building corpus-based speech synthesizers on the same data. The basic challenge is to take the released speech database, build a synthetic voice from the data and synthesize a prescribed set of test sentences. The sentences from each synthesizer will then be evaluated through listening tests.

After evaluation participants submit papers where they describe the methods used and problems solved. You could find more information on the webpage http://festvox.org/blizzard/



They want as many listeners as possible over the next few weeks and we can help! So, please distribute the "Speech Experts" link within your group, and distribute the "Volunteers" link as widely as possible - mailing lists, blogs, noticeboards, your students, friends, family... anywhere you can think of. Remember - you don't have to be a native speaker to take part.

For English:
  Speech Experts: http://groups.inf.ed.ac.uk/blizzard/blizzard2010/english/register-ES.html
  Volunteers: http://groups.inf.ed.ac.uk/blizzard/blizzard2010/english/register-ER.html
   
For Chinese:
  Speech Experts: http://groups.inf.ed.ac.uk/blizzard/blizzard2010/mandarin/register-MS.html
  Volunteers: http://groups.inf.ed.ac.uk/blizzard/blizzard2010/mandarin/register-MR.html

Despite it's my fourth challenge where I participated as a listener I still find it's interesting to pass through. The reason for that is probably that instead of synthesized sound utterances I see people and teams behind them. Though organizers stress that the challenge is not a competition, I think it's the most interesting thing there. I even think that tradition to encrypt the results with the letter which require you to read all papers and decipher who got which result makes  the challenge worth to participate. That is a kind of observance for me. I'm looking forward to read about the results.

As for non-experts, the challenge could be interesting just because it's a unique way to compare different technologies and get idea on what is possible. TTS is often utilized in different ways, but as far as you understand the speech it's ok. That should be changed. Demand for high-quality text-to-speech conversion is huge and will grow as soon as intelligent human-computer interaction will be more common. It's important to get the landmarks of the quality possible. On that background minor things like enormous noisy section that is very hard to go through or tedious QuickTime installation process looks like a minor thing.

And all this reminded me again that I need to push Ben to deploy better TTS voice on searchmymeetings. The current one is not acceptable in my opinion.

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