Speech is one of the most natural and fundamental modes of human communication. In today’s digital landscape –where audio and video content proliferate across the web and within enterprises— leveraging automated speech AI is paramount, and can make content more accessible, as well as opening the door to greater analysis and insights.
Azure Speech Services offer cutting-edge speech recognition and synthesis technology as well as a comprehensive suite of tools that you can leverage to transform how we communicate with machines and access information. In this post, we will explore key scenarios for implementing our Azure AI in your enterprise, and some of our most innovative Azure Speech features.
Speech to text
Speech-to-text capabilities can be used to make audio and video more accessible and inclusive for a wide range of users. Automatic captioning can enable people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing to access content ranging from social media, broadcasts, meetings, and even gaming chat. It also has wide-inclusive benefits for all, including neurodivergent users and those in noisy or low-bandwidth environments. Transcribing audio with Speech to text also unlocks the information contained in audio and video recordings. For example, automatically transcribing call center calls enables call center operators to streamline business processes, gain valuable insights into customer needs, and enhance the effectiveness of customer service agents.
Text to speech
Azure Speech Services offers powerful Text to speech functionality, which plays a crucial role in making text content accessible to users with vision or cognitive disabilities and those on the go. By transforming written text into lifelike spoken words, Text-to-Speech technology enhances the user experience and helps people interact with content in ways that work best for them.
Furthermore, Azure Speech Services paves the way for natural and intuitive human-to-machine interactions through voice assistants. By enabling voice-controlled interactions, applications can provide personalized, responsive, and dynamic experiences that revolutionize the way we interact with technology.
Join us as we dive into Speech Studio to explore and learn about Microsoft’s Azure Speech Service.
The first section in Speech Studio covers Speech Capabilities by Scenario. Here you can try out two scenarios: Audio/Video Captioning, and Call Center Post Call Analytics. For Captioning you can find example videos that show automated captions in action, both when generated in real-time while the video is being played, for live broadcasts for example, or offline generated for prerecorded videos.
For Post Call Transcription and Analytics you can see examples of call center calls with call transcripts and analytics like Sentiment Analysis and Call Summary.
To explore these scenarios, an Azure Account or Speech resource is not required. We also offer simple access to documentation and sample code to assist you in integrating these capabilities into your solution.
We have also recently introduced a new feature that allows you to test these capabilities with your own data. To take advantage of this feature, you will need an Azure Account. Once you have created an account, you can easily upload your own call center recordings or videos to see how the system performs with your specific data.
Exploring individual features
In the following sections, you are able to experiment with specific Azure Speech Services features. Namely, Speech to text, Text to speech, and Voice Assistant functionalities. Additionally, we offer the option to fine-tune and personalize our out-of-the-box models.
The Real-time Speech to text “try it out” experience allows you to familiarize yourself with our real-time streaming transcription feature. You can choose to utilize audio files or perform direct recognition from your microphone.
Within the Advanced Options, you have the ability to delve into additional features, such as Language Identification. This feature has the capability to automatically detect the language in which you are speaking. Additionally, the Phrase List function allows you to provide the recognizer with hints for specific words or phrases that you expect to be used that are specific to your business and/or application, such as the names of people, organizations, or products.
For Text to Speech, the Voice Gallery allows you to listen to samples of the wide variety of voices and speaking styles we offer out of the box.
And you can leverage the Audio Content Creation Tool where you can create audio clips from your own text and also adjust a variety of characteristics to fine-tune the output.
Creating custom models
With Custom Speech, Speech Studio also provides the ability to create fine-tuned Custom Speech-to-text models to further improve the accuracy for domain-specific vocabulary or audio conditions.
You can use a range of data types from simple text data to human-labeled audio data to finetune our out-of-the-box Speech to textbase models. We recently added an introduction to Custom Speech directly in Speech Studio to help new users explore our custom speech capabilities. This includes providing example projects that show ways to improve recognition accuracy. You can also directly import these examples into the Custom Speech portal to experiment with this data yourself before you assemble and work with your own data.
For Text-to-Speech you can use Custom Voice to create your own natural-sounding synthetic voice that is trained on human voice recordings. Your custom voice can adapt across languages and speaking styles. Here too we have new introductory content that helps you get started with understanding the process for creating a new custom voice. It also provides some examples of a Custom Voice and how it compares to the original recording.
Explore the full possibilities of Azure Speech Services
This was just a quick tour of Microsoft’s Azure Speech Service. There are a wide range of possibilities to apply this technology.
To get started:
1. Go to Speech Studio and check it out for yourself.
2. If you don’t have an Azure account, you can sign up for an Azure account.
About the author:
Heiko Rahmel is a Principal PM Lead for Microsoft’s Azure Speech Services. He has been working on speech technology and its application for over 25 years. His latest focus is on the development and enhancement of the Speech to text capabilities of Azure Speech and on empowering 3rd parties to leverage Microsoft’s speech technologies to extract information from speech-based interactions, make them more accessible as well as to build compelling speech-based user experiences.