Synthetic speech refers to the process of creating speech using non-human methods. In the context of the fine website, abair.ie, it refers to the ability of a computer to read Irish out loud.
If you visit the abair.ie website, and place a sentence (in Irish) into the input box, press Synthesise, and wait a moment, you can then play the result. What you will hear is a computer generated version of the sentence that you input. It is not a recording; rather it is “original digital speech”.
You can download the sound file (WAV or MP3), and use it whereever you wish, e.g. on your phone as an alert.
Researchers in Trinity College Dublin have led the work on abair.ie. What they are doing is “teaching” the computer the rules that govern the phonetics of the Irish language, which of course are unique to that language, as they usually are to any language. Fortunately, Irish is rather regular in this regard but, like all languages, it does have its exceptions.
One of the uses for this tool is to allow people, especially blind people, to hear the text of a webpage, for example (See below, on Firefox). Or to hear a digital book.
Here is the link to abair.ie:
In order to try it, put this sentence in, and make the synthesis: Seo sampla den sintéis a dhéantar ar an abairt seo.
According to abair.ie there is an add-on available now, for the internet browser Firefox, that “allows you to synthesise a word or phrase while reading any Irish-language web page ... It’s really easy to install and to use. There are step-by-step instructions in the FAQs”.