Herbi Speech Assistant

The Speech Assistant app does not run today on 64-bit computers. Work is currently in progress to make a version which runs on 64-bit computers.

 

New! Read about using the Speech Assistant without clicking with the mouse.

The Herbi Speech Assistant is a program which runs on the Tablet PC or the more portable Ultra-Mobile PC. The software was originally built by Todd Landstad, a software engineer with years of experience with Tablet PC development. He developed the Herbi Speech Assistant as an aid for people who have problems speaking. The Herbi Speech Assistant can make it fairly easy for some people to have phrases that they often use spoken by the default voice on the Tablet PC. Given that the software require fairly good handwriting ability, and access to specific hardware, it will not be practical for some people.

Once you get familiar with the Herbi Speech Assistant, it can be quite simple to use. You can build up a sentence to be spoken, by selecting words or phrases from lists, and also handwriting to add extra words to the sentence. Not many people have used the Herbi Speech Assistant, but it has proved to be a useful tool in some cases. If you think that the software has the potential to be useful to you, let me know. I can change what it currently does if that might make it more useful to you.

If after reading the details below, you'd like to try out the Herbi Speech Assistant, click How to install the Herbi Speech Assistant.

Important: The Herbi Speech Assistant can require expensive hardware to run. For example, the pictures below show a small Tablet PC and an Ultra-mobile PC. Given that in practice the software and hardware might not be useful, I would not recommend that you consider purchasing the hardware to run the Herbi Speech Assistant until you've had a chance to try it out first. Neither picture shows external speakers attached. External speakers are typically required in order for the speech to be heard.

Herbi Writer running on a small Tablet PC

Speech Assistant running on an ultra-mobile PC

 


What the Herbi Speech Assistant does

Watch a demonstration video of the Herbi Speech Assistant.

 

Areas on the screen

Areas with words

Instant speak

Phrases

Individual words

Favourites

The Handwriting area

Commonly users words or phrases

Settings

Change where lists show up on the screen

Hide the yellow handwriting area

Editing text directly in the white area near the top of the program

Clear the text area of all text after the text has been spoken

Customizing the words and phrases known to the Herbi Speech Assistant

 

Tablet PC Speech Assistant program


Areas on the screen

The Herbi Speech Assistant has four areas where you can pick text to build up a sentence that you want to be spoken, and also one area where you can use handwriting.

Areas with words

Instant speak

Tablet PC Speech Assistant instant speak buttons

If you tap one of these commonly used words, Herbi Speech Assistant will speak the word.

 

Phrases area

Tablet PC Speech Assistant phrase list 

When you tap on a phrase in this list, the Herbi Speech Assistant will add the words in the phrase to the sentence area at the top of the screen. If there is already text in the sentence area, then the Herbi Speech Assistant will add the words after the other words already there. By doing this, you can build up a sentence. For example, if you want to build up a sentence that starts with "Can you get me the", you can tap on that phrase.

A sentence building up in Tablet PC Speech Assistant

 

Individual words

Tablet PC Speech Assistant word list

When you tap on a word from this list, the Herbi Speech Assistant will add the word to the sentence area at the top of the screen. If there is already text in the sentence area, then Herbi Speech Assistant will add the word after the other words already there. By doing this, you can build up a sentence. For example, if the sentence area already contains the words "Can you get me the", you could tap on the word "blanket" to have the sentence be "Can you get me the blanket".

A complete sentence built up in Tablet PC Speech Assistant

 

Once you have built up the entire phrase you would like spoken, you can tap the Speak button. The Speak button will speak whatever words are in the sentence area. To remove all the text from the sentence area, you can click the Clear button.

Tablet PC Speech Assistant Speak and Clear buttons

After you've tapped the Speak button and the words in the sentence area are spoken, the next time you add words to the sentence area, those words will replace whatever's in the sentence area rather than adding the new words after the other words in the sentence area.

 

Favourites area

Tablet PC Speech Assistant Favourites list

When you tap on a phrase in the Favourites list, the Herbi Speech Assistant will put the entire phrase up into the sentence area, and speak the phrase immediately. You do not have to tap the Speak button after tapping on a phrase in the Favourites list.

 

There are two ways to add a new phrase to the Favourites list. The first way is to tap the "Add text to Favourites" button. This button is near the top right corner of the screen, and contains a yellow star.

Favourites button with a yellow star

When you tap the button with the yellow star, any text in the sentence area will get added as a phrase to the Favourites list.

The other way you can have a new phrase added to the Favourites list is for the Herbi Speech Assistant to add the phrase automatically. Once you've had a phrase spoken five times, the Herbi Speech Assistant will add that phrase to the Favourites list. For example, if you build up the phrase "Could you pass me the blanket" and have it spoken five times, then it will be added to the Favourites list. Once the phrase is in the Favourites list, all you need to do is tap it to have the phrase spoken immediately.

Note that once you've built up a phrase and had it spoken three times, that phrase will be added to the Phrases list to make it easier to pick again later.

Based on feedback from someone who's used the Herbi Speech Assistant, it was changed such that when you pick a Favourite phrase to be spoken, you can't pick a Favourite phrase again for two seconds. This means that if you click on a Favourite phrase two or three times in quick succession, it will only be spoken once.

 

The handwriting area

Tablet PC Speech Assistant handwriting area with the handwritten word hello

You can use the handwriting area either as a quick way to get to a word that Herbi Speech Assistant already knows, or to add new word. For example, imagine that the word "apple" isn't shown in the individual word list, but you'd like to add it. You can do this by handwriting the word "apple", and then selecting the recognized word "apple" from the list of choices at the top of the handwriting area.

Tablet PC Speech Assistant handwriting area with the handwritten word apple

The Herbi Speech Assistant might also show other words that it thinks look like the word your wrote, so only tap the word "apple". Once you've tapped on the word, "apple" will appear in the sentence area and you can tap the Speak button to have the word read out. Once you have selected the recognized word "apple", the word will be added to the Individual Words list.

Note that once a word is in the individual word list, you don't need to write the whole word again before Herbi Speech Assistant will show the word at the top of the handwriting area. For example, you could just write "a", and Herbi Speech Assistant will show words that begin with "a", including "apple". This makes it much easier to get to the words you'd like spoken. Instead of tapping on the words in the Individual Words list, you can just write the first letter of the word in the handwriting area and then pick the full word from the list of choices at the top of the handwriting area.

The list of choices at the top of the handwriting area also includes the phrases in the Phrases list. So if the Phrases list contains "Good morning" and "Good night", when you write "good" in the handwriting area, both "Good morning" and "Good night" will appear at the top of the handwriting area.

When you write in the handwriting area, there could be many words or phrases that start with the letters you've written. For example, if you write "g", you may want to have any of "Good night", "Good morning", "glass", or "glove" spoken. Given that there isn't room at the top of the handwriting area for all the possible choices, the Herbi Speech Assistant will show the choices that it thinks are the most likely that you want, based on how often you use them.

You can also have the first choice in the list added to the Sentence area, (after any other words already in that area,) by tapping the "Add to Sentence" button. If you'd like to have the first choice added like this and then have the whole sentence spoken immediately, you can do this by tapping the Speak Ink Words button.

Tablet PC Speech Assistant buttons

 


Commonly used words or phrases

As described above, the Herbi Speech Assistant will take into account how often you use certain words and phrases to make it quicker for you to have your commonly used phrases spoken.

 

If you'd like to remove any words or phrases from the lists, right click on the entry in the list, and tap "Remove".

Herbi Speech Assistant makes it easy to get at your most commonly used phrases. Either pick it from the Favourites list, or write the first couple of letters of the phrase in the handwriting area and tap on the recognized phrase. For example, if "Can you turn on the radio please" is a phrase you commonly use, you only need to write a few letters before the phrase appears, which you can then pick to have the whole phrase spoken.

Tablet PC Speech Assistant handwriting area with a phrase highlighted

 


Settings

To change some of the settings used in the Herbi Speech Assistant, click the Settings button near the top of the screen. When you click the button, the following window will appear.

New Settings window

 

All the options shown in the Settings window above are saved between sessions. So when you start the Herbi Speech Assistant, it will have the same settings as when you last ran it. The things on the screen may flicker a little when the program starts as it shows the appropriate parts of the program.

 

Changing where lists show up on the screen

An Ultra-mobile PC can use a screen resolution of 800x480, which means there's not much space for the various areas shown by the Herbi Speech Assistant. As such, it might be useful if certain areas could be hidden when they're not being used. You can use the Settings window to rearrange where things show up on the screen. 

 

A list will only show up on the screen if it has a checkmark by it in the Settings window. For example, if all three lists are checked in this Settings window, then the main program window will show all the lists.

 

Tablet PC Speech Assistant with three lists

 

 

If you uncheck the "Word" list in the Settings window, then only the two remaining lists will appear.

 

Tablet PC Speech Assistant with two lists

 

 

If you want to hide the entire area which contains lists, then click on the word "Favourites:" in the blue area on the screen. Once you do that, the lists will vanish, making more room for the area in which you write. For example, see the image below.

 

Tablet PC Speech Assistant with large writing area

 

 

To show the lists again, click on the word "Favourites:" again.

 

If you want to show the lists above the area where you write, uncheck the "Lists appear below the writing area" checkbox in the Settings area. Once you do that, the lists will appear above the writing area.

 

Tablet PC Speech Assistant with lists above writing area

 

 

Again by clicking on the "Favourites" word, the lists will vanish. Having a large area for writing means that you can write more than one line of text if you want to.

 

Tablet PC Speech Assistant with three lines of wiriting

 

 

Hide the yellow handwriting area

You can also hide the yellow handwriting area if you only want to use the lists of words and phrases, (and the blue buttons near the top right of the program). The white text area becomes larger when the yellow handwriting area is hidden. The image below shows the white text area after the yellow handwriting area has been hidden.

Tablet PC Speech Assistant with the handwriting area hidden

 

Edit text directly in the white area near the top of the program

If you want to type directly into the white text area at the top of the screen, or use the Tablet Input Panel, (TIP), to enter text there, check the "Allow editing in the output text area" checkbox. The "Undo Add" button is hidden whenever you can type directly into the white text area. The image below shows text being added with the TIP directly into the white text area.

Tablet PC Speech Assistant showing the TIP being used to enter text

 

Clear the text area of all text after the text has been spoken

Use this setting if you want all the text to be cleared from the text area after it's been spoken. This means you won't have to press the "Clear" button each time text is spoken. (Note that whenever you select text from a list, this will automatically clear any previously spoken text from text area.)


Customizing the words and phrases known to the Herbi Speech Assistant

By using another program, called the Herbi Speech Assistant Data Editor, you can add any words you'd like to the list of words that Herbi Speech Assistant can recognize. For example, you may want to add people's names or place names that aren't already known. For more details about personalizing Herbi Speech Assistant in this way, or to get the Herbi Speech Assistant Data Editor program, click the Herbi Speech Assistant Data Editor.

Note that as far as I know the Herbi Speech Assistant Data Editor hasn't been used for a long time. If you have specific questions about it, it would be best to contact me first and I can see if it currently supports your needs.

 

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