smart talkSmart Talk™ from Goodmans wins in the ‘Consumer Product’ category at The Engineer Technology and Innovation Awards 2010

Award for partnership that brought the world’s first talking Freeview digital box to UK high streets.

Smart Talk from Goodmans picked up a prestigious award at The Engineer Technology and Innovation Awards 2010 within the ‘Consumer Products’ category. Smart Talk is the world’s first talking Freeview digital box, featuring integrated ‘text to speech’ (TTS) with an easy to use menu system. Marketed under the Goodmans brand, Smart Talk is the result of collaboration between the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), Harvard International plc (Goodmans), Pixsan, TW Electronics and Loquendo.

Many people take reading a television guide or on-screen channel information for granted, but for millions of older people or those who struggle to read print, it can be a daily challenge that can knock a person’s confidence and leave them isolated from everyday conversations about TV.

Smart Talk has been designed with ease of use in mind and has high contrast colour schemes, variable font sizes and extensive help features. Users can access talking TV menus, talking programme guides and reminders, whilst easily changing the volume, speed and amount of information relayed. The remote control has been designed with tactile features, high contrast and larger buttons, including ‘One Button’ access to audio description and subtitles.

The judges were most impressed with the diverse blend of companies that produced the innovative Smart Talk. Jon Excell, Editor of The Engineer and one of the judges, says; “Winning entries to The Engineer Technology and Innovation Awards had to demonstrate a high degree of collaboration, innovation and likely impact on their intended market. Smart Talk ticked all three boxes and was a worthy winner. We were particularly impressed by the interesting mix of companies who came together to develop Smart Talk; from non-engineering partners to both large and small technology-led businesses. Elegantly simple and extremely innovative, Smart Talk was a clear winner in our consumer technology category.”

Steve Tyler, RNIB Head of Innovation and Development, speaks on behalf of all the companies involved with producing Smart Talk: "We are thrilled to receive this award. All parties have worked extremely hard to make Smart Talk a reality.  Pixsan’s digital TV software teamed with RNIB’s carefully designed user interface specifications and TW Electronics’ input into the easy-to-use remote control ensure that the groundbreaking text to speech technology from Loquendo work together to create this innovative product for our customers.

TV plays a huge role in our national culture and sparks millions of conversations, so making sure that blind and partially sighted people and others who struggle to read on screen information can also take part is vital. Smart Talk offers a real solution, so we are very proud to win this title.”

John Edwards, Director of Communications at Harvard International, adds: “ The concept of integrating text to speech software in this way is pioneering and has never before featured in a consumer electronics product of this type. We were thrilled to work with a respected and knowledgeable organisation like RNIB to create a product to help millions of people to enjoy the latest digital television.”

Silvio Nasi, Sales Director of Embedded Technologies at Loquendo, commented: “We at Loquendo get a great sense of satisfaction from knowing that this collaboration between RNIB, Harvard International and Pixsan has helped to make set-top-boxes accessible to many people in society who are often excluded from using technology, such as partially sighted and blind people.”

Smart Talk is available nationwide through John Lewis, Currys Megastores and PC World plus online stores, including from RNIB (www.rnib.org.uk), and is an ideal, award winning gift for Christmas.

For further information contact Stacey Lynn at Synergy Creative on 0117 377798 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Notes to editor:  

  • Smart Talk™ is an easy to use talking Freeview digital box from Goodmans at around £99.

  • It gives access to up to 50 Freeview TV channels and 24 digital radio stations with high quality pictures and sound.

  • Smart Talk offers features not offered by other digital boxes, including a talking EPG and programme reminders.

  • Those eligible for the digital Switchover Help Scheme will be entitled to receive a £30 discount on buying a Smart Talk™ Freeview digital box. To check eligibility please visit  www.helpscheme.co.uk.

  • Smart Talk is available from John Lewis, Currys, Amazon and RNIB. For more details please see www.smart-talk.com.

  • Further benefits and background information can also be found on www.smart-talk.com.

About RNIB

Every day another 100 people in the UK will start to lose their sight. There are around two million people in the UK with sight problems. RNIB is the leading charity working in the UK offering practical support, advice and information for anyone with sight difficulties. RNIB has made a significant commitment to support industry to bring really accessible and usable products onto the market. If you, or someone you know, has a sight problem RNIB can help. Call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or visit www.rnib.org.uk.  

RNIB is a partner in the UK Vision Strategy, a ground-breaking UK-wide initiative which seeks a major transformation in the UK's eye health, eye care and sight loss services. The strategy launched in April 2008 in response to a World Health Assembly global resolution to reduce avoidable blindness by the year 2020 and to improve support and services for blind and partially sighted people. To find out more visit: www.vision2020uk.org.uk/ukvisionstrategy.

About Goodmans

Goodmans is part of Harvard International plc, which has operated for more than 40 years in the global consumer electronic products market. Today its focus is very much on added value digital vision and audio products, such as digital TV set-top boxes (STBs), recorders (DTRs) and digital radio, targeting specific local market opportunities, for example, the UK's popular, free-to-air TV services. For further information, please visit www.harvardplc.com

About TW Electronics

TW Electronics is a UK based specialist in the design, creation and distribution of many different applications of remote controls. They are closely involved with the UK led drive to greater usability of Consumer Electronic products. TW Electronics currently holds the chair of the DTG (Digital Television Group) Remote Control Group. This Group is committed to the creation of good practice guidelines in the overall usability of remote controls. Please see www.twelectronics.co.uk for further detail of our business activities.

About Pixsan Digital Software – Digital TV Software

Pixsan is a broadcast DVB and IPTV software provider for STBs and TVs. The company specialises in Freesat, Freeview HD and Freeview STB, Digital TV Recorders and iDTV solutions for the UK market as well as solutions for overseas. Pixsan’s technology than can be found in many leading consumer electronics products with many millions of units sold. The company has particular competency in interactivity and usability and is heavily committed to the rapidly developing area of so called hybrid TV technologies where broadcast and internet TV will operate together for increased consumer choice.

Pixsan is based in Shipley, West Yorkshire. For more information, please visit www.pixsan.com

About the Engineer Awards

The Engineer Technology & Innovation Awards 2010 turn the spotlight on the fruits of this collaborative process.  Now in its fourth year, this prestigious awards scheme is run by The Engineer, the leading magazine and website for technology and innovation, in conjunction with main sponsor BAE Systems. Awards in ten categories spanning the key sectors of engineering and technology

For more than 150 years, The Engineer has covered innovation in engineering and technology through economic booms, recessions and wars. A glance back through its pages teaches us that when times get tough, recovery is built on the foundations laid by innovation and ingenuity.  That is as true in 2010 as ever and with the financial sector still in disarray, engineering and technology are back at the top of the national agenda.

About Loquendo - Speech Technology and Services

Awarded Speech Industry ‘Market Leader’ for the past four years, Loquendo provides a complete range of speech technologies for server, embedded and desktop solutions – in 30 languages with 72 voices, and constantly growing - helping businesses deliver a next-generation client experience while saving them millions each year.

Loquendo Embedded Technologies are innovative, easy-to-integrate solutions deployed in more than 14 million mobile and on-board navigation systems globally, as well as powering PDAs, assistive devices, virtual Web-assistants and other embedded solutions around the world.
Loquendo TTSLoquendo ASR, and Loquendo Speaker Verification are high-quality, high-performance technologies, also available on the Loquendo MRCP Server and VoiceXML, CCXML & SCXML platform.

Loquendo is a Telecom Italia company headquartered in Turin, Italy, with offices in the US, Spain, Germany and France, and a global network of partners. For more info, and to hear Loquendo TTS for yourself, go to www.loquendo.com.