The big deal about an AI model that can talk like you


Meryl Streep is pitch perfect as the narrator of the Norah Ephron novel Heartburn. In the audiobook version, Streep’s classic delivery brings alive the emotional turmoil as well as the self-deprecating wit of Rachel Samstat, who has just found out about her husband’s affair. In the Harry Potter audiobooks, it’s singer-actor Jim Dale who creates the magic.

Now let’s say you are discomforted by American and British accents. You prefer to hear Heartburn and the Potter books in voices you can relate with. You want to switch the genders of the narrators. You want the Muggles speaking in the voice of your favourite Bollywood actor. You want to be the narrator.

Those are real options a Bengaluru startup expects to offer as it develops an artificial intelligence model for cloning voices. It reckons there is massive business opportunity in impersonating voices, and not just from the growing popularity of audiobooks. Think voiceovers for ads, narrations for education-technology platforms, real-time translations, automated responses, voice assistants, smart speakers.

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