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Talking iPods

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the you-like-your-ipod-better-than-me-don't-you-dave dept.

194

chrisb33 writes to tell us the next iteration of the iPod may talk you through the menus instead of just relying on text. The Scotsman speculates on this new technology based on a patent filed by Apple in the US. From the article: "The patent reveals the idea is driven largely by safety considerations. It states: 'A user will have difficulty navigating the interface in "eyes-busy" situations. Such activities include, for example, driving an automobile, exercising and crossing the street." The patent also makes clear that text-to-speech technology is likely to spread to other hand-held electronic devices such as mobile phones and palm-top computers."

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194 comments

FP! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15690036)

You lost, teh Steveness!

-Cory

Bleeding edge innovation! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15690040)

Automobile... missed old timey bicycle, though!

I had this idea first!! nah nah nah nah (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690149)

Wow this deserves a patent?

Lets see, a bunch of engineers gets together for lunch.

"Hey dude, I got a great idea, I hate it when im on a train and I need to get out my ipod, and fear
getting robbed while I pop out my $400 ipod, I want voice menus."

Any one with a bit of 5 minutes spare would have put this in the todo list years ago.

Any one who wants super million dollar patents, email me, I have 1000 ideas worthy of patents, some 50 years ahead of
any technology capability of today.

Oh we copied statrek '60s tv shows? wow, these patent people must be outsourced from india, never having watched 1000 scifi tv shows.

Seriously, any new patent which has aleady been in a tv show should not be patented.

Contact me, I'll make you millions, all I ask is a 10% cut in profits unless there is zero then its min 5% pure revenue.

24th Century Technology! (2, Funny)

MrPsycho (939714) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690041)

Scotty: "Computer... Computer... (McCoy hands Scotty the mouse) Scotty: "Aye. Hello computer." -- "Just use the keyboard." (Scotty flexes fingers and begins typing) Scotty: "Keyboard. How quaint."

Re:24th Century Technology! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15690428)

Any self-respecting /. poster would know that TOS and the movies it spawned (including Star Trek IV) took place in the 23rd century =)

Seems an obvious patent (1)

La Gris (531858) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690044)

From the Editor's short summary, without actual references to the patent text, it look like a very obvious patent again. Text to speech applyed to menu navigation. Nothing new here.

Re:Seems an obvious patent (3, Insightful)

moochfish (822730) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690064)

As Creative kindly reminded Apple, having defensive patents to make sure your competitors think twice about suing you for patent infringment is a smart move.

I'm more curious if Apple manages to make this feature a new defacto standard in the MP3 player market. I'm also wondering if this feature will come into play when and if they enter the cell phone market. It seems like a patent that applies readily to that market.

Re:Seems an obvious patent (2, Interesting)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690134)

From the Editor's short summary, without actual references to the patent text, it look like a very obvious patent again. Text to speech applyed to menu navigation. Nothing new here.

Yeah, I actually posted about that 2 years ago when the shuffle was rumored. Can I dig up my old /. post and call it prior art? ;)

Of course, people thought I was nuts then...

Re:Seems an obvious patent (3, Insightful)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690139)

Text to speech applyed to menu navigation. Nothing new here.

Indeed. I was playing with that concept some 15 years ago on a Commodore Amiga, and back then it wasn't a new concept either.

If this patent gets approved, it would show once more that the tests for non-obviousness and novelty are seriously broken.

Non-obvious:

Prior art in the form of existing text to speech implementations (Amiga and others) and menus (Mac, Amiga, others).

Known and/or well documented motivation to combine the 2: See any software aimed at making a computer accessable to someone who cannot read the screen for one reason or another.

Got to think of it, screen readers and such seem to implement menu to speech interfaces and have been for at least some 2 decades.

So.. the novelty part should be clear.

Re:Seems an obvious patent (3, Informative)

Mant (578427) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690235)

I expect what they will patent is the system where the computer does the text-to-speech and then loads up the created files to the player along with the actual songs, then the menu system plays them as appropriate.

So a bit more than just a text-to-speech menu system.

Re:Seems an obvious patent (1)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690339)

So a bit more than just a text-to-speech menu system.

Preparing a sample on a 'high performance' machine for playback on a machine where realtime generation would be 'too expensive' for one reason or another is not exactly a new idea, and anyone who even needs a documented motivation for doing that seems in need of a new brain first :)

In other words, doing as you suggest should not make the patent valid because it should still fail being novel and non-obvious, even with todays broken concept of what 'obvious' means.

Re:Seems an obvious patent (1)

SparkEE (954461) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690408)

And the fact that it took someone all of 21 minutes to think of that demonstrates just how obvious it is.

Re:Seems an obvious patent (1)

mixonic (186166) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690405)

Indeed. I was playing with that concept some 15 years ago on a Commodore Amiga, and back then it wasn't a new concept either.

God is there nothing you people can't do?

Re:Seems an obvious patent (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690561)

I did it 20 years ago with a TI 99/4a and their speech module for programs written in TI basic.

I was 7 and making simple games in Basic. I needed a menu system so I built one. The text to speech software barely added 20% to the menu's size increasing it to some 20kb. that's right kilobytes.

I bet the other guy did it 20 years ago as well since by 1990 the comdore64 was really old.

Re:Seems an obvious patent (2, Insightful)

russellh (547685) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690481)

So.. the novelty part should be clear.
Did you read the patent? and are you a lawyer?

Re:Seems an obvious patent (1)

Androk (873765) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690533)

What do lawyers have to do with patents? Isn't the test supposed to be with someone in the field that the patent applies to? Lawyers just add cost to almost everything we touch, don't encouragethem.

Re:Seems an obvious patent (2, Funny)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690145)

Text to speech applyed to menu navigation. Nothing new here.

Ahhh! But it's now being done on a computer!

Oh wait.

Re:Seems an obvious patent (2, Insightful)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690184)

You got that wrong. It should be:

"Ahhh! But it's now being done by Apple!"

Re: Seems an obvious patent (1)

KURAAKU Deibiddo (740939) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690366)

Actually, this should be: "Ahhh! But it's already been done by Apple!" or "Ahhh! But it's now being done in iPods!"

Text to speech has been in Mac OS for some time. If I wasn't stuck at work, I'd give you a screenshot of the PrefPane. However, here's a Wikipedia link, instead: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_PlainTalk [wikipedia.org]

Note the dates. ;)

Re:Seems an obvious patent (1)

Kuxman (876286) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690746)

But how is it going to deal with: 04 - Britney_Spears-04_MP3-HIGHQUAL-AWESOME-04-SWEET-SO NG-TITLE_Hit-Me-Baby_1-MORE-TIME-mp3.mp3 ?

Rockbox (4, Informative)

FromWithin (627720) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690048)

Rockbox [rockbox.org] has had this for ages now. It's a replacement MP3 operating system, originally for the Archos machines, but now even runs on the later generation iPods.

Re:Rockbox (1, Flamebait)

ratsnapple tea (686697) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690069)

Unfortunately, Rockbox lacks all the elegance and grace which characterizes the Apple iPod interface. It looks and feels like it was designed by an autistic chimpanzee.

And it can't even play AAC files. That's right. No MPEG-4 audio. In 2006.

But hey, it plays OGG!

Re:Rockbox (0)

lorentey (644913) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690085)

The Rockbox interface indeed sucks. However, I would consider supporting proprietary, DRM-encumbered media formats a disadvantage. Will you be able to play the iTunes tracks you buy today to your grandchildren in 2060?

Re:Rockbox (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690180)

Being an opponent of DRM I hate to have to point this out, but merely supporting DRM in addition to real formats (as the iPod does) is not the same as requiring DRM (as some older Sony ATRAC-3 players did). Your argument is only valid against the iTMS and Sony's old music players, not the iPod.

I will grant you that refusing to use equipment that supports DRM is valid from an ideological perspective, however.

Re:Rockbox (2, Informative)

Mant (578427) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690199)

AAC is no more proprietary than MP3 and doesn't have DRM. Apple have a music format that is AAC + DRM. I use Rockbox on my iRiver, and while I would never expect it to play something bought from iTunes for all sorts of reasons, no reason why it couldn't play AAC in addition to the MP3 and OGG.

Re:Rockbox (2, Informative)

Bobsledboy (836872) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690253)

AAC is a well documented standard, albeit somewhat affected by software patents. Fairplay is a proprietary extension upon this standard. From the wiki:
AAC, which was first specified in the standard known formally as ISO/IEC 13818-7, was published in 1997 as a new "part" (distinct from ISO/IEC 13818-3) in the MPEG-2 family of international standards.

Re:Rockbox (1, Informative)

Nocterro (648910) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690094)

Regardless, if the question is one of prior art, then rockbox seems a pretty clear example. No doubt apple will get the patent and then push for legislation requiring all other companies to license it as part of equal rights for disabled people regardless.

Re:Rockbox (3, Insightful)

nathanh (1214) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690194)

Unfortunately, Rockbox lacks all the elegance and grace which characterizes the Apple iPod interface. It looks and feels like it was designed by an autistic chimpanzee.

Rockbox supports gapless playback.

So you go play with your "elegant graceful interface". I prefer to listen to the music.

Re:Rockbox (1)

pathological liar (659969) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690360)

I'd had the default apple firmware for a year and a half. I'd never had any problem with playback. I switch to Rockbox, and suddenly I'm plagued by *frequent* crashes where the device locks up and has to be rebooted.

... So you go play with your gapless playback, I prefer to listen to the music.

Re:Rockbox (1)

defaultXIX (106977) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690546)

[mr.smith]Mr. Anderson, how will you listen to your "gapless playback", if you can't find your song?[/mr.smith]

Re:Rockbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15690351)

Erm, no. To quote the Rockbox Wiki (unfortunatly down at the moment)
Rockbox for the iPod 4G, Color, Nano and Video models all have a very wide range of codec support - MP3, Ogg Vorbis, Musepack, FLAC, AAC, ALAC, AC3 and WavPack are all supported in Rockbox. Additional music playback features include gapless playback and customizable crossfading, as well as a five-band fully-parametric equalizer to fine-tune sound output. iPods also get ReplayGain support for volume level normalization, and a large number of plugins, including games, applications, and "demos" - have some fun when you've got some free time to kill, open files with the text viewer, make use of the stopwatch, view some JPEG photos, or turn your iPod into a desktop clock. Also enjoy On-The-Go playlist creation and adjustment, full file bookmarking support and much more.

Re:Rockbox (1)

ratsnapple tea (686697) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690407)

I refer you to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]: "AAC decoder is unoptimized. Currently it only runs realtime on the iPod targets for <= 128 kbit/s." Translation: Rockbox can't keep up with MPEG-4 audio and chokes on the stream, resulting in gaps and stutters. And they call this "playback"?

I fully expect a retort along the lines of "b-b-but it's fixed in CVS!" Don't even bother.

Try this out today with Rockbox (3, Informative)

lorentey (644913) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690065)

The Rockbox [rockbox.org] open-source firmware for iPods and various other players has been supporting talking menus for ages. (Sorry, the Rockbox wiki seems to be down for the moment.)

Furthermore, it's free and does not try to lock you out of your music.

So what's up with the patent?

What would be cool... (5, Interesting)

fullcircleflight (883189) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690066)

If I whistle to my iPod a few seconds of a song melody, I would like to see it identify the track and then play it! I'm sure it would be impossible, but at least it would be more patent-worthy!

Re:What would be cool... (1)

Kijori (897770) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690082)

That's the sort of application I can see becoming possible with the advent of constant internet connectivity. You whistle into your iPod, it digitizes that and sends it across the internet to your home PC/a free server/more likely a pay-per-song service which matches the song and sends back the song info. If you have it it plays, if not you get the option to stream it, storing it on your iPod after it's played. Ideally the service would make its money from these purchases, but I doubt the record labels could temper their greed sufficiently...

Re:What would be cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15690195)

I'm not supposed to talk about it, but that's already in early testing. I had to leave the program though, as it turned out that pretty much everything I whistled sounded like the Barney song.

Re:What would be cool... (1)

GoatMonkey2112 (875417) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690244)

If you already have it locally on your iPod it shouldn't be necessary to go to the internet to look for it. I see what you're saying though, it could be another way to search for a song.

Re:What would be cool... (1)

Kijori (897770) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690802)

But will an iPod ever have the computing power necessary to do voice matching on a music library? I suspect that this will always require a more powerful computer.

Re:What would be cool... (2, Informative)

helicologic (845077) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690340)

I worked on a system once that indexed tunes by (roughly) the first derivative of the pitch contour of the melody. The start of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" would be: FDDUUSSDSS, where D=down, U=up, S=same and F=first note. It was startling how effective this method was, with the vast proportion of 5000 tunes or so we looked at being disambiguated in 8 or fewer steps. I'm pretty sure this idea was turned into a product and sold, by Franklin Electronic Publishers, something like 10 years ago. So no, it's not impossible to index songs like this.

Fan boy alert! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15690068)

"innovation"

"The ingenious system"

"clever software"

Give me a break!

Still sounds dangerous... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15690073)

If MP3's are still arranged in a geometric structure (trees of various sortings) and unless some new metaphor is introduced, iPods will still require spatial reasoning to navigate. While driving, I argue that there is one task and one task alone that should be getting full spation reasoning awareness: driving.

What makes this worse is the translation from spatial to textual. This requires the user to reconstruct the spatial, requiring even more concentration.

How about voice recognition? Call out the artist or album and listen away!

You're right (but that applies to radios too) (2, Insightful)

ianscot (591483) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690461)

While driving, I argue that there is one task and one task alone that should be getting full spation reasoning awareness: driving.

I agree in principle that just reading off menu items to us is adding a level of abstraction, not simplifying anything. We haven't really seen how this would work, but it sounds like nothing much new. (Pre-OS X Macs certainly did this too.)

The thing about cars is, radios and cells phones are also distracting. When each of those came out people said they distracted from people's driving, and despite our unthinking acceptance even radios really do that, you know? We're not just talking about spatial reasoning to figure out where on the dial we are left to right, we're talking about a device that deliberately obscures the sounds of traffic. Those shuddering bass-heavy cars thumpa-thumping at intersections can't possibly hear an ambulance. Let's not even start on cell phones.

If they had to choose one thing to concentrate on, and okay obviously they don't, I'd tell Apple engineers to work out the stupid line-to-my-car-stereo thing. Yeah, I know there are options, and they're all too expensive and cumbersome. In reach with an easy hookup, please. In general car interiors get a ton of attention and still suck. It's amazing how the cup holders are crucially important to drivers, and turn out to be flimsy and awkward in so many cars. Just turn a little of that Apple attention to making things simpler there.

Re:Still sounds dangerous... (1)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690613)

Voice recognition would be horrible. As I have said in another post, this is so blind people can use the iPod.

maybe, maybe not. (4, Insightful)

Aqua OS X (458522) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690076)

The author seems fairly certain that a patent equals an imminent new feature, but that's not the case. A patent is a patent. Apple may implement this in 6 Gen iPods, they may wait for later revisions, they may never implement the feature.

Technology companies, especially Apple, have piles patented software features, devices, etc that have never seen the light of day. And speaking of piles, one of which is actually called "piles."

  As I recall, Apple also has also recently patented several different new hardware interfaces for the iPod. You can bet money they're not all going to be implemented. Heck, none of them may be implemented.

Re:maybe, maybe not. (1)

DreadfulGrape (398188) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690417)

However, it would seem to jive with this tidbit of information leaked last month by the Taiwanese press:

http://www.macrumors.com/pages/2006/06/20060615101 812.shtml [macrumors.com]

I think not. (1)

beetle496 (677137) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690799)

People who do not work in assistive technology often confuse voice recognition (the touch-less interface hinted at by the Taiwanese press) with speech synthesis (the current article associated with this thread). I read about this patent a month ago and was excited because I though Apple were finally making the iPod accessible to people who are blind. I now believe the patent is merely about these stupid shoes [apple.com] for sighted yuppies. Very disappointing.

Re:maybe, maybe not. (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690709)

Even if none of them get implemented, the point is that Apple holds the patent. So if some company thinks up something similar, or just outright sees the patent and thinks they can make it a commercial success, Apple is going to get a slice of the pie.

so i can have a conversation and it change? (5, Funny)

nihaopaul (782885) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690079)

me > hello, thanks for calling me back
*ipod changes* playing album: hello my name is q
*ipod changes* The Calling - Thank You.mp3
me > shut up!
caller > what?
*ipod changes* 03-lil_kim-shut_up_bitch.mp3
me > no not you, my ipod is freaking me out
*ipod changes* Ali G Indahouse-Da Soundtrack/14-another_level-freak_me-rns.mp3
caller > you know its weird to talk to that thing right?
me > your driving me crazy
*ipod changes* Fidel Cashflow (2005) - Rap/06-stack_bundles-hustlers_go_crazy.mp3
caller > what ever, forget the job!
me > no, wait a minute!
*ipod changes* ez-rollers/lickable_beats_lp_sampler/09-60_minute_ man_and_dj_touch-tonight.mp3

real men dont mark this funny, real men mark it insightful!

Re:so i can have a conversation and it change? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15690573)

Real men have never heard of 95% of those "songs."

Blindingly obvious (1, Redundant)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690080)

Well, Duh, I have a navigation device that uses speech too (TomTom). There is mountains of prior art here. Yes I know they are talking about navigating menus, but hell, If I have a map of London, can I still patent maps of New York? WTF?

Prior Art (0, Redundant)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690084)

There is much prior art to block this. Just telephone any big business and see! Press one if you wish to ..... and all that stuff.

It would be supremely ironic if the USPTO are using a voice menu on their telephone system, and don't laugh it out of the door .....

Yay more comfort! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15690087)

I mean, it's pretty much impossible these days to actually stop whatever it is you're doing for a second and you know.. focus solely on changing the current playlist/album/track, this is because you might be vaporized by killer robot if you dont keep an eye out.

Re:Yay more comfort! (2, Insightful)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690172)

this is because you might be vaporized by killer robot if you dont keep an eye out.

I'm afraid you'll have to wait a few years for those. Expect to see them in Korea or Japan first.

Untill then, cars and trucks happily take their place. Those employ kinetic energy to compress instead of vaporizing you but the result is not much different usually.

Re:Yay more comfort! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15690397)

this is because you might be vaporized by killer robot if you dont keep an eye out.

I'm afraid you'll have to wait a few years for those. Expect to see them in Korea or Japan first.


Erm, no, the killer robots [idsnews.com] are in Iraq and Afghanistan right now. Not only are they killers, they're flying killers!

Road users of the world rejoice (1)

bluebox_rob (948307) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690089)

So this safety-driven innovation will make it easier to operate an iPod while driving a car... part of me is astonished that anyone would be stupid enough to try to navigate an iPod menu while driving, but another part of me remembers that we live in a society that consistently produces Darwin Award winners of the highest calibre.

That quote at the bottom that starts off sounding like a cautious endorsement from a safety watchdog is, in fact, saying they're still miles off:
"If people don't need to take their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel then there are clear benefits to that."
and yet:
"Users of the music players will still operate the Clickwheel as normal"

Re:Road users of the world rejoice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15690321)

...another part of me remembers that we live in a society that consistently produces Darwin Award winners of the highest calibre.

You would think that nerds would understand the theory of evolution, but apparently not. Ignorance and stupidity seldom result in an evolutionary dead end, and when they do (such as dialing an 800 number on your phone while applying makeup in heavy traffic) they're as likely to cause you to be an evolutionary dead end if you haven't procreated.

It all comes down to procreation. If you can't get laid, you won the Darwin award.

The trailer trash with the IQ of 87 and 12 kids is the future; the nerd with the 287 IQ who can't get a date will only be a footnote in short-term history. Your genes are toast.

Re:Road users of the world rejoice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15690395)

I was having this conversation just the other day with my friend, and it led us to decide that we need to implement eugenics at a national level. Or just destory the mid-west, either way we're cool with the idea. Let us know what you come up with!

Re:Road users of the world rejoice (1)

bluebox_rob (948307) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690602)

Do you actually know what the Darwin Award is?

If you can't get laid, you won the Darwin award.

Nope, that's not it...

A Missed Market (3, Insightful)

prichardson (603676) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690098)

Apple is probably doing this to make their devices more accessible to the blind. OS X has a fairly sophisticated accessibility suite, and perhaps their extending it to their iPods. I know a blind person who would love to have an iPod, if it were accessible.

All of that said, I really hope this is something I can turn the fuck off. When I got my mobile phone it made a noise every time I'd press a button, when I'd turn it off, when I'd turn it on, when I'd dial a number, and probably a few things that I never got to. I was glad that I could turn it all off, otherwise I would have had to return it.

There seems to be an obsession with our technology beeping and buzzing to respond to our input. I know when I press a button; I don't need a noise to tell me what happened. The only time my phone needs to make noise is when I'm getting a phone call.

Re:A Missed Market (2, Insightful)

Lussarn (105276) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690330)

Yes, blind people will certanly love when somebody patents text-to-speech to use exclusively in their devices. Makes sence to me now. Thank you.

Bad! Bad! Bad! Bad! Bad! -- Bad! (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690103)

What part of the studies that show the problem is your MIND being distracted doing other things while driving, not just having your eyes off the road, it is that Apple doesn't understand?

This could cause huge embarrassment (2, Funny)

99luftballon (838486) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690104)

Think of the possibilities. The ultra cool fashionista who loses all credibility when the iPod annpounces they are listening to Celine Dion for example. Cue a quick grab for the play ans a face saving "No, no, the machine's screwed - I'm listening to the Arctic Monkeys honestly..." Similarly do you really want to know the respectable commuter sitting opposite you is listening to "F**k like a beast"

Is it just me that HATES devices talking? (2, Interesting)

cliffski (65094) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690117)

I REALLY hate it in video games the most. I am capable of reading, yet every game tutorial on earth insists on having everything spoken to me at just the slowest speed so that the average joe can follow what is going on.
One of my favorite games (Battlefield 2) is almost ruined by the constsant spamming in my ears of "Enemy unit spotted!" "ok" "roger sir" "well done team" etc.

Text is easy to skip, but voices arent, we seem naturally designed to respond to a voice, but we can ignore text. any device, application or game that talks to me just feels like someone nagging me. Besides, what accent will it have? pretty much everyone has at least one accent they hate, are people assuming a US accent is univerally appreciated?

Can you *imagine* how much MORE annoying the office paperclip would be if it spoke to you?

Re:Is it just me that HATES devices talking? (1)

maubp (303462) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690160)

Never mind accents, what about different languages?

On the plus side, as the text-to-speach is done on the computer (by iTunes) this wouldn't stop me buying a cheap US iPod (if I visited on holiday) for use in Europe (where due to local taxes they tend to cost a lot more).

i.e. The iPod doesn't care what language the converted text is in; that's up to your computer.

Re:Is it just me that HATES devices talking? (1)

luminiscence (976818) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690176)

I concur ... In my opinion, the way I am imagining it, it will be much easier browsing through the menus reading them rather than hearing them ... I mean if you are use the ipod a lot, you don't need to have a second glance at the menu item seeing what it says. Also speaking out the song names and the band names is just as ridiculous. I may listen to non-English music, and the song names/band names will sound totally different when they are passed through the text to speech engine. At least in my case, I am much better off with the normal i-pod

Re:Is it just me that HATES devices talking? (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690236)

I wouldn't mind it being something I could turn on or off (As long as you didn't need to navigate the menus to do it, you just have to tap the menu button twice or something) since then I could navigate around whilst keeping the iPod in my pocket. I can see benefits for people with the remote headsets as well, letting them pick out songs without driving through the menus blind and ending up with their 2-star playlist.

Re:Is it just me that HATES devices talking? (2, Insightful)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690626)

Acutally I HATE reading the text. I would rather have in game hosts who don't use text bubbles and have a way to skip the tutorial crap all together.

Great... (3, Funny)

InsaneLampshade (890845) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690153)

So now when i'm travelling to work on the train every morning, not only do i have to put up with excessively loud music coming from peoples headphones, and people talking on their mobile phones, but *now also* people talking to their ipods. Great, just ******* great. -_-

Anyone know where i can buy a portable, re-usable EMP device with say a 50m range?

Seems they improved speech-quality (2, Interesting)

5937 (986421) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690161)

But Apple says its system will break down words in a new way that makes it possible to pronounce perfectly even the most obscure song titles and artist names. It also proposes using "voice talent" - such as famous actors - to make the speech more human and add in the celebrity factor. The patent also proposes using different voice "characteristics", such as gender, for different sections of the iPod menus. Professor Steve Renals, a speech technology expert at Edinburgh University, said: "It is possible to create very high quality text-to-voices these days. "We have seen some already used in mobile phones, but it has struggled in the past with difficult words and names. The technology is much better now and can cope with most things."

Accessability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15690170)

This is not only great for eye-busy situations, but for accessability. I know a few friends that are blind that are going to love this feature.

Customising the language packs... (1)

maubp (303462) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690173)

As the text-to-speach is done on the computer by iTunes, it shouldn't be too hard to replace the voice talent...

How long before the "Marklar" edition (South Park), or a "Chef" one gets created?

Aren't we forgeting something.... (0, Redundant)

jeeperscats (882744) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690178)

I'm pretty sure listening to an iPod or any other device that requires you to stick things in your ears while driving is illegal in most states anyway. If you are driving just use the car radio.

Re:Aren't we forgeting something.... (1)

TechGranny (987537) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690288)

I was just thinking the same thing. Who would listen to an ipod in the car? Sounds dangerous. I mean what this world doesn't need is more distraction on the road. Someone with a cell phone, Ipod, and blackberry all going at the same time while trying to pilot a vehicle would be an accident waiting to happen.

The talking thing is cool I suppose, but its probably just one more feature that 99% of the people will not use.

Re:Aren't we forgeting something.... (1)

Sepodati (746220) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690357)

I'm pretty sure they are since most people use an FM transmitter, tape adapter, input jack, CD changer port, etc. to plug the iPod into the radio.

---John Holmes...

Pretty obvious (1)

jridley (9305) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690225)

I was actually just thinking a few days ago (for about the 100th time) why MP3 players didn't have voice prompts for at least some things, like "battery low" - it'd be a lot better if it said "battery low" than if it just stopped working. It's not much of a step from there to voice menus.

Re:Pretty obvious (1)

klang (27062) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690304)

Saying the words "Battery low" or popping up a window saying "battery low" takes power..

Theese kinds of messages have always anoyed me because I know, when I am running my device on the last fumes and the last thing I want is a message (that has to be cliked) reminding me / disturbing me with this fact. ..but that's just me.

Select a voice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15690243)

Oooh, do I get to have the same sexy robotic Vicki voice that my Mac gives me?

Honda does this (1)

bokmann (323771) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690268)

This iPod adapter that Honda makes does this; it reads to you the names of your albums, and you select the one you want when it says it.

Too bad it sucks. [nuxx.net] First of all, it would take, like, 2 hours to read me all of my albums on my iPod, so I can't jump to anything quickly... also, you have to click a button with a second or so of it reading the one you want. This is a bad idea when driving; the only thing I should have to respond to in a timely manner while driving is, well, driving.

One review I read of it likened the experience to handing your iPod to a friend on the other side of a door and having them read the contents to you, then poking them with a coathanger when they read the song you want.

Re:Honda does this (1)

Steve525 (236741) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690568)

This was my thought when I read the headline. I actually have this for my new car. I'm not sure I'd go as far as to say it sucks, but it's not great.

First of all, it would take, like, 2 hours to read me all of my albums on my iPod, so I can't jump to anything quickly... also, you have to click a button with a second or so of it reading the one you want.

Fortunately, it first lets you select a letter, then it lists all the albums (or artists, or songs, or playlists) that begin with that letter. (Unfortunately, it takes some practice to hit the buttons just right at the right time). So, you don't have to wait for it to list all your albums.

My conclusion about the product is, if all you want to do is select from a few playlists, it works OK. If occasionally you want to select an artist or album it's not great, but it's workable. If you want to select a particular song, forget about it. I could say the same thing about having to use the iPod in the usual manner while driving. So, a power adapter and an aux input would make me just as happy.

One review I read of it likened the experience to handing your iPod to a friend on the other side of a door and having them read the contents to you, then poking them with a coathanger when they read the song you want.

That's not too far off. I'd say that your friend also needs to mumble and mispronounce things, however, the button on the stereo is slightly easier to reach. The good news is at least the sound is much better than the cassette adapter I used to use.

Prior Art makes this unpatentable (2, Funny)

spicydragonz (837027) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690284)

I think I have talked my mother through using interfaces over the phone at least 1/2 dozen times. Last one: "Ok mom, open firefox No go to piratebay.org. uh-huh, yeah you can find music. Search for American Idol. No you are not downloading the music. You need to use a bittorrent client to download the music. Ok, lets get you a client. . ."

Ipod + Car = Death (1)

LeoDioxide (836870) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690286)

This is a very good step in the right direction. If you've ever tried to ride in as a passenger in a car with someone who insists on playing their best music on their ipod for you, you know what I mean. "Put down the ipod and drive you crazy......YOU'RE IN THE WRONG LANE" "Want to listen to Queen?" Aforementioned driver is splitting time between the ipod and road, not a comforting thought. Considering teenagers have ipods, and teenagers are unexperienced, and teenagers are being distracted while driving, text to speech can save lives.

Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15690302)

Hah! I had this back in 1997 in my 1986 Honda Civic!

Vehicular MP3 player with vocal interface (computer was stashed in the trunk of course). ... Back when everyone else was trying to stare at those little 2x16 character displays!

NuFrosty

BT have done teh same with text messages (1)

tubs (143128) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690349)

There is a service that BT supply in the UK that allows a mobile text message to be sent to a normal landline phone. And guess who they have got to do the voice? The Dr! Well Tom baker anyway.

Which means 2bit radio dejays can have hours of fun texting rude words to it.

While driving? Safety? (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690358)

A user will have difficulty navigating the interface in "eyes-busy" situations. Such activities include, for example, driving an automobile...
And does he use his tongue to move the click wheel? Meanwhile, what about the fucking DRIVING WHEEL and "NAVIGATING" THE CAR? Creating an interface that explicitly encourages use WHILE DRIVING is insane, and probably a class-action lawsuit waiting to happen.

Speakable Items and VoiceOver (2, Interesting)

Speare (84249) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690456)

I'd like to believe this, but frankly, Apple has been letting their TTS and STT features languish since they were introduced to Mac OSX.

Speakable Items (speech to text commands) are a very simple arrangement: the engine is listening for a finite set of strings at any given time, so error rates are low. Fortunately, the set of strings is gathered from a set of filenames, so it's super-easy to make new strings and organize them by application. Unfortunately, most of the newer applications that are bundled with OSX have no hooks for automation nor sample scripts as speakable items. The speakable item must be an AppleScript or .app, for no discernable reason; I would love to be able to have voice-activated shell scripts without going through some ugly hack of a wrapper script, since it's "Unix" and all.

VoiceOver (text to speech prompting) is also fairly straightforward, but there's limited support and somewhat inconsistent controls. Many of the blind folks I've seen using voice prompts on other devices want their voice prompts to be very fast, even so far as to blur the words together into abstract "earcons." The AppleScript-invoked speech does not honor the OSX talking speed preferences, so the words just ramble on taking forever to finish. The talking is not a separately controllable volume channel, so if you turn up the iTunes, then the TTS voice will start yelling at you to compete, or worse, not be able to escape the iTunes mute control.

This is just a rumor, but for the sake of those who like or need good voice features in their interfaces, I hope it signals a new drive to finish what they've started here.

Eye-busy doesn't cover attention-busy (1)

Winterblink (575267) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690468)

Wasn't it Mythbusters who showed [kwc.org] that driving while talking on a cell phone was as bad as driving drunk? It's not so much the fact our eyes are averted when we fiddle with things, it's the fact that our attention is still diverted while we try to listen to the iPod chattering on about what menu we've selected.

Eyes off situations is not what this is for.... (1)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690606)

This is not for eyes off situations like when your driving. This is so that bind users can actually have full benefit of the iPod. My Blind fried would ifnd the current iPod usesless. He's more apt to go to the iPod Shuffle because of it's easier interface. With voice added, they could navigate it an dbe able to know what they are listening to.

patent (2, Insightful)

jonshipman (935910) | more than 7 years ago | (#15690640)

If Apple didn't patent this for the iPod then someone else would come out with an mp3 player and then sued Apple for putting it into the iPod.

Say what??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15690729)

If this "talking iPod" thing happens, I sure hope it's an option that can be switched off. Actually, it sounds very un-Apple. Too nerdy. More like something you'd expect from Microsoft.
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