Learn the basics of photo text to speech - How to take a picture of a page and have it read out loud on any mobile or desktop device and operating system.
Photo text to speech—How to take a picture of a page and have it read out loud
TTS readers are in high demand and ample supply. But does that mean all text to speech technology delivers the same performance?
Many TTS screen readers can process digital text from Microsoft Word documents, HTML web pages, or copy-pasted words from other text files. But few of them can convert locked digital and physical text from images into natural-sounding narration. Those that do use optical character recognition (OCR).
What is OCR?
OCR, known as optical character recognition or text recognition, is a technology designed for specialized data extraction. It has numerous business applications and plenty of use in leisure and entertainment.
This type of technology usually has two components. It has a hardware element to scan images and a software element to extract and repurpose data. But the software component is the most exciting and complex part.
OCR software can single out individual letters and entire words and arrange them into sentences. In addition, it enables users to edit the original locked content, similar to editing a PDF file with locked text content.
How OCR works
The actual processing is fascinating. Although other two-color methods exist, OCR software converts physical documents into black-and-white digital copies.
Then, the OCR app analyzes dark and light areas in the image, knowing that the dark regions represent characters. Depending on the complexity of the software, it can focus on characters, words, or blocks of text simultaneously.
From there, the software identifies characters using feature recognition or pattern recognition algorithms. The feature detection algorithm uses a more complex process involving line and curve association and ASCII code conversions.
Regardless of an OCR app’s algorithm, it will also analyze the document structure to differentiate between text, tables, pictures, and other elements. That way, the only thing extracted is the text.
The main benefit of this technology is the ability to take paperback novels, physical documents, and hard copy textbooks and convert each page into a digital machine-readable text.
This advanced processing technique is already powerful on its own. It can automate data entry processes and streamline workflows in many industries. However, it provides even more advantages when coupled with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning algorithms.
AI-enabled OCR can go beyond standard text processing and identify different languages, handwriting styles, etc. Combined with text to speech technology, OCR software can scan physical documents, process the text, and allow a TTS reader to turn that digital text into speech.
Uses for text to speech OCR
Combining OCR and TTS technologies opens up numerous possibilities to make information more accessible and consumable in various scenarios. Here are a few uses for text to speech OCR:
- Assistive technology for the visually impaired: Converts written content from books, documents, or screens into spoken word, helping visually impaired or blind individuals “read” the content.
- Learning and education:
- Aid for dyslexic students: Helps students with dyslexia or other reading challenges by converting written text into audio.
- Multimodal learning: Allows learners to both read and listen to content, improving comprehension and retention.
- Translation and language learning: Converts written foreign language text into spoken word, aiding in pronunciation and understanding.
- Digital content consumption: Converts books, news articles, and other printed text content into audiobooks or podcasts for on-the-go consumption.
- Document accessibility: Makes PDFs, scanned documents, and other non-editable formats accessible to people who prefer or need audio content.
- Historical document analysis: Converts old manuscripts or archival documents into audio content for researchers or enthusiasts who want to listen to historical texts.
- Business and productivity: Converts printed non-digital reports into spoken content for busy professionals.
- Proofreading: Helps writers or editors identify mistakes in written content on paper by listening to it.
- Entertainment: Converts comic books, graphic novels, or other primarily visual media into an auditory experience.
How to read text aloud from a picture
Not every Apple and Android mobile device user knows that their apps may have OCR technology and a TTS reader capable of accomplishing simple text to speech conversion tasks. Consider the built-in TTS features as like apps that will read to you for free or like a free app that reads text from cameras, however their quality is not as good as more advanced text to speech software.
Here’s how to access the text reader from images on Android and Apple devices:
Android devices, at least those running Android 12 OS and above, come with a built-in TTS reader. It’s a useful tool for navigation, reading small fonts, etc.
But you can also use it to read text from pictures. Here’s how to set up your device:
- Go to the “Accessibility” menu via the “Settings” app.
- Enable the “Select to Speak” option.
- Go to the TTS reader’s “Settings” tab and turn on the “Read text on images” option.
- Return to your home screen and launch the “Camera” app.
- Point the camera at a book, newspaper, or another screen with digital text.
- Tap the “Select to Speak” button before tapping on a word in the “Camera” app.
The TTS Android reader will start narrating from the highlighted word. You can select chunks of text by dragging your finger across the screen to make a selection, as you would when using a word processor.
Reading physical text aloud using an iPhone requires a working camera, iOS 15 and above, and enabling the built-in TTS reader.
- Navigate to the “Accessibility” tab from the “Settings” menu.
- Tap the “Spoken Content” feature.
- Enable the “Speak Selection” and “Speak Screen” options.
- Go back to the home screen and turn on the camera.
- Point the camera at a page and wait for the “Live Text” button to appear on the bottom toolbar.
- Tap the button to enable OCR screen reading.
- Swipe down using two fingers to begin reading from the top of the page.
- Tap a word or make a selection on the screen to read aloud a particular word, sentence, or paragraph.
Like Android devices, iPads and iPhones have limited OCR and TTS capabilities. While the word processing accuracy is above average, the voice quality is underwhelming due to its robotic nature.
Speechify—The best TTS with OCR technology
While built-in TTS readers and OCR software are lovely to have on mobile devices, their quality and performance are less than impressive.
Fortunately, you have an alternative reading text app. Speechify is a text to speech reader that combines OCR technology and high-quality AI-generated voices. Its functionality exceeds that of default mobile text readers and can scan entire books and physical documents to process the physical text into digital text.
From there, the complex algorithms generate natural-sounding voices that you can control and adjust to your desired reading speed. The Speechify text to speech software is available on the following platforms:
Whether you get it from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store or download the desktop Mac version or the Chrome browser extension, one license is enough to use Speechify on all your desktop and mobile devices. The user-friendly interface appeals to all age groups and technical backgrounds.
Speechify OCR scans are available for real-time online reading. Alternatively, you can convert PDF files, screenshots, and other images into audio files with a high bitrate and listen to them offline at your own pace.
Designed for users with dyslexia, reading disabilities, visual impairment, and multitaskers, Speechify’s assistive technology does more than a typical full screen reader. It’s the app you want to turn any digital and physical text into an audiobook, create podcasts, and improve your reading skills with less effort and greater focus.
Try the free Speechify text to speech app and personalize an immersive reading experience.
SEO Title: Photo Text to Speech – How to Take a Picture of a Page and Have It Read Out Loud
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