People are sensitive to and often quick to criticize synthetic voices. Therefore, when Deutsche Bahn AG was planning to introduce computer-generated connection announcements in its trains, the primary requirement was to utilize a sophisticated voice technology that sounds close to the natural voice and is quickly accepted by passengers. After all, it was the goal of Deutsche Bahn to inform the regional train passengers of train-change possibilities and connecting trains comprehensively and in a clearly understandable manner, even when the trains are not staffed with conductors. The uniform voice of Deutsche Bahn was also intended to sharpen recognition among travelers.
A pilot project in this regard was started in twelve DB Regio trains in April 2010. A specially created “custom voice,” i.e., a synthesized voice by Nuance created specifically for Deutsche Bahn, informs the passengers of their further travel options in “real time” before a train transfer stop is reached. In the future, it will also be possible to handle stop announcements and other information concerning the course of the trip via the voice computer. Thus, using the synthesized voice, the DB Regio is no longer dependent on making additional recordings in the recording studio and saves time as well as money.
In July 2010, the Bahn [German Railway System] had DIMA MarktForschung [DIMA Market Research] find out through a passenger survey whether the new technology is well received by passengers. The result: The digital passenger announcements enjoy an extremely high level of acceptance among all of the persons who were surveyed. They have a contemporary feel and distinguish themselves through their high level of understandability.
In its new announcements, Deutsche Bahn is relying on the innovative “Vocalizer Text‑to‑Speech” (TTS) technology by Nuance Communications for the conversion of written text to a natural-sounding voice. The leading provider of voice and image-processing solutions developed an exclusive synthesized voice for Deutsche Bahn on the basis of this method.