Friday, November 11, 2011

Text-to-Speech support

Technical Note #2

From COPIAFACTS build 8.062, Text-to-Speech is supported as an optional feature for voice calls. Currently this uses Microsoft Speech Server, which is a free download for Vista, Windows 7, and Server 2008. Microsoft Speech Server supports over two dozen voices in various languages, including several voices for different national versions of English and Spanish. We also support the original ‘Microsoft Anna’ voice used by the Microsoft Speech API (SAPI) although this is not of the same quality as the voices provided with Microsoft Speech Server.

Text to be spoken can be directly included on a new $tts_text infobox command, or can be included in an external file referenced from a $tts_file command. These files can either contain plain text or can use any of the SSML markup supported by Microsoft Speech Server.

The power of the new text-to-speech feature comes from the ability to include CopiaFacts variables in the text to be spoken, making it easy to set up an IVR session which is responsive to earlier entries by the caller, or to variables in a voice-broadcast list. Spoken text can also include conditional text, controlled by $if, $else, $endif commands embedded in the text to be spoken.

We recommend that when a voice application uses text-to-speech, you should replace any of the CopiaFacts Standard Voice Prompts that you need with matching prompts spoken by the same voice. To do this, run the FFTESTTS utility, which can load either individual phrases or a list of text files, and convert them to WAV files spoken by the selected ‘voice’. There is a set of XML files available for installation which contain the texts of all the standard voice prompts, which you can use with this utility.

You can find technical information about using Text-to-Speech in CopiaFacts here. This topic has download links for Microsoft Speech Server and links to the commands you will need in your infobox logic.

To evaluate or add the text-to-speech option to your CopiaFacts license, please contact Copia Sales. For help with implementation, please contact Copia Support.

Scheduling calls by ‘Time at Destination’

Technical Note #1

CopiaFacts now allows automatic scheduling of calls based on the time at the destination. This feature has obvious applications for broadcasts, where a list may have numbers in a variety of different countries and time-zones, but even for single transmissions you may want to have a call made in office hours without having to look up and calculate the times.

The scheduling is controlled by new parameters on the $fax_send_time command, which you can find described here.

As an example, for a voice broadcast which you wish to spread over weekday mornings only, all you need to do is add to your template the command:

$fax_send_time 09:00:00 12:00:00 12345 DEST

Here the 12345 selects days Monday to Friday, and DEST indicates that you want to use the time at destination. Time zones in the USA and in Australia are determined from the area code in the phone or fax number, and for other international destinations from the country code. Daylight saving time is automatically taken into account.

For Job Administration broadcasts, there is a dialog on the Schedule/Priority page which makes it easier to set up these parameters:

Please contact Copia support if you have any questions about using this feature.