Fear Chatroulette’s walking dead, but in a good way

On a daily basis, Chatroulette is home to far scarier interactions than Realm Pictures’ zombie-themed “Real Life First Person Shooter,” but few—if any—are as endearing. The setup is familiar: A player is dropped into a gameworld and explores it through their avatar’s point of view. This world, it turns out, is filled with zombies and the player must kill those from whom you cannot run away. Along the way they can pick up weapons that might be of use. Should their health meter hit zero, they die. Game over. It’s all quite typical, really. Or, rather, it would be quite…


This Seussian speech synthesis machine was the ’80s alternative to Siri

Once upon a time in 1989, before app-whisperers like iPhone’s Siri and Windows’ Cortona fit conveniently in our jean pocket, people built rather large and strange-looking speech synthesis machines, like this one. The Talking Machine, a 230cm rack of pipes that looks like something out of Dr. Seuss, was built by Martin Riches, who controlled it via home computer and posited it as art. Here are a few technical details from Riches’ blog to help you process what you’re seeing and hearing: “The machine is arranged like an organ; a pipe for each speech sound. Each pipe consists of a…


Carols are even more festive when a Commodore 64 is singing them

Nothing will get you in the holiday spirit faster than an iMac, a Commodore 64, a ZX Spectrum, and a Mega Drive singing a carol. Likely, James Houston of The Glasgow School of Art arranged this harmonic ensemble of synthesized voices for the novelty factor. After all, hearing the voice of Fred of Mac fame sing the words “Merry Christmas” would make any grinch’s heart grow six times the size. But it also serves as an apt lesson in he history of voice synthesis. There’s plenty of interest in the future of voice commands these days, with Joaquin Phoenix’s Her releasing…