The paid version, which has a price tag of $28.95, wasn’t much better. I downloaded it on a trial basis not too long ago and it was generally equally horrible. The only real measurable difference as far as I could see was that you could enhance the horribleness with a 10-knob graphics equalizer, as well as two slide bars to adjust pitch and timbre.
Firstly, there’s a speech delay of about one second, give or take. And there’s also an echo, whereby when you utter a word, for example, you’ll hear it four times, (diminishing in volume, of course, with each repetition.) Given these two factors, if you plan to speak for any length of time lasting more than a few seconds, in sentences that include more than a mere few words, chances are you are going to stumble over your own speech and literally become unable to verbalize your thoughts, due to the fact that the echo and the delay are so disorienting.
At any rate, contained in that press release were a few statements uttered by FutureTAG and Vivox folks that caused me to raise a brow in skepticism. Take this one, for instance: “Real-time voice capability is an integral part in ensuring the success of virtual worlds and societies,” stated Giulio Prisco, founder of FutureTAG. That’s a bold, sweeping statement, it seems. I mean, the word “success” in this instance might be much more of a subjective phenomenon than that comment makes it out to be, I think. Does my idea of a ’successful’ virtual world mirror Prisco’s, for example? On who’s behalf is he speaking, I wonder?
I told the reporter yeah, if voice was ever integrated into Second life, I would be generally highly enthused about trying it. But I also would be a little skeptical, since many users inside SL (perhaps myself included) have yet to even learn how to communicate and interact competently using text. Now we’re going to have voice? Then I said to her that voice was a totally different type of performance.
On the flip side, perhaps the less we engage with the keyboard and mouse, the less likely we are to connect with the on-screen depictions. It’s been my experience, through reading and observing, that the less a user is tactilely or physically involved with the interface, the more likely he or she is to lose interest.