Researchers at the Multimedia University in Malaysia have developed an app called the Intelligent Narrator to read out news articles in real-time. Supporting multiple languages, the app can automatically identify an online newspaper's language and read out the news in the same language.
"You will hear a Chinese voice, if Chinese text is written on the news website," Dr. Wee Kuok Kwee, a Senior lecturer at the Faculty of Information Science & Technology, Multimedia University, tells Gizmag. "We can modify our app to cater to the common languages of a region."
Currently the app supports Korean, Japanese, Malay, Tamil, English and Chinese. According to Kwee, it's also possible for users to hear news based on their specific interests as the app allows category-based selection.
Integrating a text-to-speech engine and an HTML text extractor, the app is designed to provide quick access to the latest news to listeners with disabilities, the visually-impaired and people who'd prefer to listen to the news while driving or otherwise engaged.
While users can normally operate the app via a keyboard or touchscreen, users with disabilities can respond to voice commands to make their selections using a numeric keypad.
"A small 'special' numpad can be connected to the device and used in tandem with the app," explains Kwee. "This numpad has Braille indentations to make it easier for the visually-impaired to feel which button they are pressing. For example, the app will say 'Press 1 for news from The Star Online, press 2 for news from Berita Harian' etc."
Control buttons on the app allow users to stop, rewind or fast forward through news articles. Kwee and his team are currently working on the Android version of the app and plan to develop an IOS version of it next, before releasing it.
Source: Multimedia University