on Aug 5, 2006
I’m sure some of you have noticed this ad on Technorati:
It’s a very gimmicky talking ad. The problem is, it starts talking when the ad is loaded. I thought we learned this lesson back in the dot-com dark ages: Nothing will send visitors fleeing from your site faster than having ads yammering at them while they are trying to read. It’s infuriating. LATER: I reloaded the ad a few times since then and it now stays quiet until the user provokes it. Looks like it was either a fluke or they wised up and make the ad quiet by default.
I bring this up because I find voice synthesis facinating. Like flying cars, this was one of those technologies we were supposed to have by now. And yet, for almost twenty years the technology stalled. It wasn’t until the last couple of years that I’ve started to hear voices that were notably better than the ones from the late 70’s. Voice technology progressed to the point where you could understand the computer if you listened carefully, but didn’t get much better after that. I’m not sure what has got the technology moving again. Is it the availability of faster computers and more memory, or simply renewed interest in the subject?
This voice is impressive because it’s the first female voice I’ve ever heard that didn’t sound like a man who’d just suffered an impact to his reproductive gear. It’s quite impressive, although it’s still no substitute for the real thing.
But what Site Pal is really selling is animated talking salespeople. It has the stench of a doomed endevor. I know it’s just getting started, but like other site-addon gimmicks (remember comet cursors, where you could add custom cursors to your site?) it’s a novelty that will quickly become passé and then an annoyance. It’s a shame, but I can’t really see any use for this. The animated talking head is amusing for a few moments, but despite their claims I don’t think it will be making any big sales.
Still, the character builder they have was an amusing way to kill ten minutes.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.