Drives and Controls Magazine
Get ready for your machines to talk and listen to you
Published:  09 May, 2018

Beckhoff has developed a technology similar to Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri, that allows automation systems to listen and speak. At the Hannover Fair, it announced a software module, called TwinCat Speech, that will give machines these capabilities, in addition to the existing visual capabilities offered by TwinCat Vision and the “intellectual” capabilities offered by its TwinCat runtime software.

TwinCat Speech will allow input and output of queries or information in a choice of 26 languages. For example, maintenance personnel will be able to ask about the effect of changed settings on an application, without having to use a conventional operator interface. In addition, machines will be able to deliver spoken alarm messages if critical system values are exceeded.

The speech input capability will be available for offline use only, and will use functions built into the Windows operating system, without needing cloud or Internet connections. Speech output will be available both online and offline, with the online version using Amazon’s Polly text-to-speech service, which produces realistic-sounding speech using deep learning technologies.