It was inevitable.
Text-to-speech company iSpeech has released a pair of smartphone apps that tap the actual voices of President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush to allow you to convert any text into audio that's a dead ringer for the president or former president.
This could take phone pranks to an entirely new level.
The free iSpeech Obama and iSpeech Bush apps were released last week, and are designed to show off what the company's text-to-speech technology can do. The apps are available for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry. iSpeech also sells its technology to other companies.
That anyone can make the former president's voice say anything, while satisfying in a certain sense, is a little unnerving. That anyone can do the same for the sitting president is downright scary.
Want to know what your graduation speech would sound like if the president spoke it? Now you can, and worse. Check out the video below to hear for yourself.
A key thing to keep in mind is that one of the ways we naturally identify people--by the sound of their voices--is diminished by this technology. As long as some of us aren't familiar with it, text-to-speech in real people's voices will be irresistible for phone pranks, and perhaps worse. Then, when everyone's in the know, it's likely to become much less interesting. It's a bit like April Fools' Day before you remember the date, versus after.
With that in mind, maybe this is a good idea. People need to know this technology is out there so they won't easily be fooled.
Then again, maybe not. Perhaps the choice of voices could have been different--Kermit the frog, anyone? Of course, that's probably protected intellectual property. John Wayne? A little erie. Amy Winehouse? Beyond the pale. Edward R. Murrow? Hmmm, now I have visions of revisionist history.
What do you think? Is this bad news or too tempting to pass up? And what would you have Obama or Bush say?