Google buys voice synthesis company Phonetic Arts

Lifelike speech coming to future Google products

Google apps of the future to sport voice output as well as input.

Google is taking us another step towards the space-age computing future TV has been promising us for decades, purchasing speech synthesis company Phonetic Arts, a team of UK-based developers whose work it is to make the way computers read text sound... well, less like a computer.

According to the Phonetic Arts website, the company's goal is "deliver technology that generates natural expressive speech, allowing computer games to say any sentence in any type of voice."

The end result of the acquisition will be Google apps that can communicate with users via speech, rather than just via text output. Obvious existing Google candidates for a more human speech upgrade include Google Translate, which currently offers to read out translated words and phrases as Stephen Hawking-esque roboticisms.

Mike Cohen, a Google Manager posting on the Google Blog, said that his team were "excited about the technology, and while we don't have plans to share yet, we're confident that together we'll move a little faster towards that Star Trek future".