Tianjin University Unveils the First Intelligent News Broadcaster in Chinese Colleges

“Welcome to Tianjin for the World Intelligence Congress.” The voice came from “Hai Xiaotang” (Little Crabapple Flower), the first Artificial Intelligence (AI) News Broadcaster at a Chinese university. After Wang Longbiao, a Professor from the College of Intelligence and Computing at Tianjin University, typed a few words into the computer and pressed “Enter”, this message was immediately read out in a sweet and sunny voice.

“Hai Xiaotang” at the World Intelligence Congress

In order to welcome the 3rd World Intelligence Congress, Tianjin University, together with Huiyan Tech, unveiled an AI News Broadcaster, that can greet the person and provide information and news on the Congress, Tianjin and Tianjin University to the visitors around the clock.

According to Professor Wang, “Hai Xiaotang” was created based on end-to-end deep learning speech synthesis technology.

“We developed a set of sound teaching materials and asked Wang Herong, a female news presenter from the Voice of Peiyang at Tianjin university, to train ‘Hai Xiaotang’ how to speak. Her words became the effective material for ‘Hai Xiaotang’ to learn. Now ‘Hai Xiaotang’ has already surpassed its teacher and is proficient enough to sound like its source voice. ‘Hai Xiaotang’ can broadcast as well as a human news reporter. As long as text is typed in, ‘Hai Xiaotang’ can accurately broadcast news without any noticeable difference from a real person and tirelessly report the news at all hours.” Professor Wang said.

To illustrate the competence quality of the voice, Professor Wang found a 2000-word review of the World Intelligence Congress and let “Hai Xiaotang” compete with Wang Herong. The speaking speed, the voice, and the intonation of the two resembled each other, but “Hai Xiaotang” did not make mistakes, while the human rival did twice. Compared with the existing artificial intelligence news reporters, the voice of “Hai Xiaotang” is no longer stiff and artificial sounding, and its tone is exactly the same as that of a human.

“Tianjin University has a good foundation and strengths in cognitive computing, speech signal processing, machine learning, data mining, pattern recognition, computer vision and natural language processing which are related to artificial intelligence. The intelligent speech team at Tianjin University has presided over a 973 Project in the field of speech sound, making itself a national leader in the algorithms of speech generation, speech interaction and speech synthesis,” Wang said.

During the World Intelligence Congress, Tianjin University will not only invite Turing Award winners to interact with college students and middle school students, but also create a special online zone where the intelligent News Broadcaster “Hai Xiaotang” can introduce the World Intelligence Congress and report its latest news to the audience.

By: Deng Xiaoxuan

Editors: Keith Harrington, Sun Xiaofang