The teamwork behind the world’s first public service agent

Thanksgiving is of course a U.S. holiday (and we here at Microsoft News would like to give a shout-out to Sarah Josepha Hale, first American female magazine editor, composer of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and the successful lobbyist behind Thanksgiving as a national holiday).

Still, for those elsewhere around the world, the spirit of gratitude is a common one when embarking upon the winter holiday season. This year, that spirit is even keener: While every generation has faced tremendous challenges, the 2020 pandemic has tested nearly every corner of the world.

As individuals and nations navigate the unseen, many of us are lucky enough to continue to work together on projects large and small. Here at Microsoft, one is the ability to give intelligence a literal voice: The whole field of neural text to speech covers a gamut of discipline, from linguistic speech patterns to sentiment analysis. Our team has been privileged to work with MSN partner BBC to use neural TTS to create the world’s first public service agent, Beeb, now in Microsoft Stores.

While we celebrate a service that opens up accessibility to news and information in different ways, we also want to celebrate the story of how individuals can work together across time zones and oceans, united in a larger mission and in the process recognize what makes us uniquely human.

Check out this post on Beeb and how a gardener, a gamer and a traveler helped to make that possible.

Review the technical story here.