Why Your GPS’s Voice Is Annoying

CNN’s article, Why GPS voices are so condescending, is more ambitious than its headline: it looks at the limitations of computer speech in general, and why it has the limitations it does. For GPS navigation devices — which is where, I think, most people encounter voice synthesis — hardware is a major limitation: “Mobile phones and GPS devices, in particular, just don’t have enough computing power or storage space to thumb through mountains of voice files in order to sound as realistic as possible with current technology.” And then there’s the “emotional mismatch” (think Eddie the Computer from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy): “if you’re having a groggy sort of morning, instructions from a GPS device that sounds like a caffeinated cheerleader might just push you over the edge.” Via Geospatial News.

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