Text-to-Speech Programs and Continuous Medical Education

Can anybody read the latest NEJM articles for me? The answer is yes, just use a text-to-speech program. Check the AT&T demo here.

What Is the Idea?

Let's see, you want to read this pile of the New England Journal of Medicine articles, or may be some part of Harrison's or UpToDate but it seems like you can never find the time for it. At the same time, have you ever thought how many hours per week you spend in the car commuting to work? Here is a suggestion: why don't you listen to those NEJM articles while driving?

What Is Text-to-Speech?

Your computer can talk to you and it can read whatever you want. The text-to-speech programs convert text or web documents to human speech. And you can choose between the voices of Mike, Sam, Sally, Pierre, Huan or Ludwig, because most programs can speak foreign languages. Have you ever wondered how to say something in Spanish? The right program can be an invaluable tool in practicing Spanish, French, German or may be Portuguese...

Does it sound like a human voice? Not really, it is a computer-generated voice but it is as close to human as it can get. You can adjust the speed: "Talk slowly please". You can repeat: "Say that again", or change the pitch of the voice, if you like bass versus tenor or soprano.

Which Text-to-Speech Program to Choose?

There are several text-to-speech programs on the web. Just go to Google and type in the search field "text-to-speech". The best program is "2nd Speech Center" and you can try it for free for a month (the full version costs $25).

Download the program on the desktop, not in the jungles of the windows directory, so that you know where it is, and then just unzip, and click "setup".

Now the biggest question - how to use a text-to-speech program? It is really simple. Just open the program and the article you want to read. Then select the text and press "Ctrl + C", or right click and choose "Copy". The idea is to copy the text in the clipboard. The program will start reading automatically.

Take Your Reading With You

The program can make MP3 files (or regular CD files) from the articles. You can listen to them on your iPod or the car CD player. It is useful, simple and fun. You can easily catch up on your reading of journal articles, NYTimes, Washington Post, Time, you name it...

Self-Made CME

The continuous medical education does not have to be limited to pre-recorded cassettes or CDs. With the text-to-speech programs, you can assemble your own curriculum of the topics you want to read.

Our TTS Demo Speaks Your Text - AT&T Labs
Two Ways to Take iPod on the Road - Washington Post 5/05
eBooks and eAudio Books - Downloadable Digital Collection. Cuyahogalibrary.org.
Audio eBooks, both human-read and computer-generated from Project Gutenberg
University of Michigan Dental School to deliver podcasts of lectures to students via iTunes
Total Recorder ($ 12) records streaming audio, mic input, line-in input, as well as CDs and DVDs
Reuters Audio News as TTS podcasts
Listening to MS Office - PC Magazine 6/05
6 Ways to Link iPods and Car Radios - PC Mag 10/05
Image sources: morguefile.com, en.wikipedia.org

1 comment:

  1. Many thanks for this item - it inspired me and a number of things that have been buzzing around in my head suddenly clicked. I can see lots of continuing professional development possibilities for all health professionals (being a nurse by background myself). My first venture here is to use TTS applications to generate audio files and podcasts from the HC2006 health informatics conference blog that I am and colleague are developing.