I would like to know whether it is computationally possible for a computer to go through the words of an audiobook as input, output a file containing both the original audio and the text corresponding to each word (which could be reviewed by a human), and a silent software tag between each word marking each word boundary.
How much of this process could be automated, and how much of it would have to be carried out by a human?
This process would yield a file where instead of just being able to play, pause, and move forward and backwards by a given number of minutes, as could be done in the original audiofile, we could now also provide the following functionality:
- move back and forth a given number of words
- move back and forth a given number of sentences
- move back and forth a given number of chapters (or subsections)
- spell the current word
- look up the current word in a dictionary
- accurately repeat over and over, the text between any two markers, with a custom number of seconds between each repeat (which is good for learning / memorizing stuff)
Note that while audio books were primarily designed for blind people, has increased functionality would both give them more power as well as empower people with learning disabilities or both.
UPDATE: Since the audiobook is created from a text (either a text file or a textbook which can be read using OCR), I wish the case to be considered where the source words and punctuation are available. My problem is having the computer assign a time t_(w_i) to the beginning of each word w_i and store these in the output sound+wordTimes file (which could be post-edited for inaccuracies by humans). I have not seen anything that does this so far.
This link seems to suggest that what I am trying to do is possible (via a technique called forced alignment).