Soccerphone Update

By | July 12, 2005

It’s been ages since I’ve written about Soccerphone, or even about anything at all. The last few weeks have just been too hectic. But, I did find time this weekend to make a few updates to Soccerphone, which is an automated speech application I built a few years ago so I could receive live Major League Soccer scores by phone.

One update of questionable merit was to use audio recordings made by me to replace some of the prompts that are currently being synthesized by a text-to-speech engine. Not only is the use of myself as a voice talent a rather dodgy decision, but also, there is still quite a bit of TTS. I’m not sure the recording effort really improved the quality of the app that much, if at all. It was fun to do the recordings, though.

Speaking of TTS, I switched from a female voice to one of the male voices that BeVocal supports. I’m now using Reed, which is a Nuance Vocalizer voice. Not only does the app sound better due to no longer switching back and forth between genders, but the TTS engine used to synthesize the Reed voice does a much better job of pronouncing names than the TTS engine used to synthesize the Jennifer voice.

I also finally got around to adding Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake to the grammar, so you can now say them at the Team Name prompt. I added FC Dallas to the grammar, but also left in their old name, the Dallas Burn.

Another minor update was to add a dummy recognition block just before the backend query. Without this, the confirmation prompt from the previous dialog wasn’t being played until the HTTP fetch completed. Since it sometimes takes more than five seconds to get the response back, the confirmation had sounded sort of odd when it was played so late.

6 thoughts on “Soccerphone Update

  1. ewd

    That was really their name, the Dallas Burn? God, it sounds like a nasty communicable disease that might run rampant among truckers. It was a probably a wise marketing move to change that one.

    Oh, these comments don’t necessarily have to be on point, do they?

  2. Richard Berger

    TTS is Text To Speech (in case Robert is too busy to answer on account of his having a real job 🙂 ).

    PS – Thanks for verifying that I fixed the comment bug related to the MT-Blacklist.

  3. Robert Post author

    My top 3 MLS team names that weren’t selected:

    3. Houston Humidity

    2. Death Valley Dehydration

    1. East Carolina E. Coli

    Almost as bad, or maybe worse, was the original name for the San Jose Earthquakes. They used to be the San Jose Clash.

    The BigSoccer discussion boards once had a long thread arguing whether or not team names should have to be a noun. Of course, you could argue that Burn can be used as a noun, but I don’t think that that was what was intended when the original team names were made up by a bunch of marketing people in a bar after a long night of snorting tequila.

  4. Paul

    Hi Robert — how’s it going? This is not about SoccerPhone but about the GIGANTIC BLUE HOVERING TOOLTIPS that are flashing before my eyes…must…close…eyes…

  5. Robert Post author

    Yeah, they are a little large and distracting. Especially when they start clumping together in annoying packs, like Ewoks or MyTurn faux-PCs. They might not survive the next site redesign extravaganza.


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