Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert, who lost his ability to speak following cancer surgery in 2006, has demonstrated a newly developed speech-synthesis technology that allows him speak through a computer. Appearing on the Oprah Winfrey show with his wife Chaz at his side, Ebert typed his responses to questions on an Apple laptop computer -- it was not clear whether the technology was developed for the Macintosh operating system -- and his words were read by the computer in his own voice. The system was created by Scotland-based CereProc, which used recordings made by Ebert for DVD commentaries to produce a computer voice that sounds like him. "It's what they call a beta," Ebert said during the interview. "It still needs improvement." Nevertheless, the voice sounded remarkably lifelike -- or as Ebert put it, "uncanny." Ebert also used the occasion to make his usual Oscar predictions Best picture The Hurt Locker ; Best director Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker ; Best actor Jeff Bridges, for Crazy Heart ; Best Actress Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side.

03/03/2010