Winthorpe - a framework for speech enabling applications
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Winthorpe - Let Your Applications Listen... And Talk

What is Winthorpe ?

Winthorpe is a platform service for speech recognition and synthesis. Its main goal is to provide a framework for speech/voice enabling applications. It aims to provide an easy to use but versatile API to liberate developers from the low-level implementation details of speech recognition and synthesis, allowing them to instead focus their full attention on how to improve the usability of their applications by utilizing these new interaction mechanisms with the end user.

Winthorpe does not contain a recognition or synthesis engine as such. We stand on the shoulders of giants and rely for these tasks on the excellent work other folks have been and keep doing in these areas. Winthorpe provides the necessary mechanisms that allows existing engines to be plugged in as recognition and synthesis backends. Winthorpe already contains plugins for using CMU pocketsphinx for recognition and espeak and/or festival for synthesis.

Winthorpe can also utilize Murphy, the scriptable resource policy framework, to arbitrate between and bring context-awareness to speech- enabled applications. If configured so, Winthorpe will let Murphy make decisions about which applications and when are allowed to actively use the speech services. The Murphy policy configuration can then be used to resolve conflicts between applications that are otherwise completely unaware of each other. Moreover the policies can be used to dynamically enable and disable speech services, both globally or just for a subset of applications, adapting the speech subsystem intelligently to the context and overall state of the system.

Our idealistic long-term goal for Winthorpe is to build step-by-step the framework and using the framework a context-aware voice enabled personal assistant which allows relatively straightforward integration of new applications.

We realize that these goals are ambitious, far from being straightforward and we have only taken the first few tiptoeing baby steps experimenting with our ideas to achieve some of them. If you are interested in speech recognition, synthesis, or speech-enabling your application and would like to help us, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Getting Winthorpe Up And Running

Winthorpe itself is hosted on github at You can clone Winthorpe using git with the following command:

git clone

Additionally you will need the following prerequisites to get Winthorpe up and running with a reasonable set of plugins:


Winthorpe reuses parts of Murphy for a large part of its basic infra. Thus you will need to get Murphy to compile Winthorpe. Murphy is hosted on github at You can clone it with

git clone

See the (arguably sparse) Murphy documentation on how to compile it.


The existing Winthorpe recognizer and synthesizer backends use PulseAudio for recording and rendering audio. Your distribution should provide packages both for the daemon and the necessary client libraries.

For instance for Fedora you'd need pulseaudio, pulseaudio-libs and pulseaudio-libs-devel (along with their dependencies).

CMU Pocketsphinx

Winthorpe provides a plugin that uses CMU Pocketsphinx as a speech recognition backend. Most desktop linux distributions provide packages for sphinxbase, pocketsphinx and some language models and dictionaries. Winthorpe should work both with version 0.7 and 0.8 of pocketsphinx.

For instance for Fedora you'd need sphinxbase-libs, sphinxbase-devel, pocketsphinx, pocketsphinx-devel, and pocketsphinx-models (along with their dependencies).


Winthorpe has a synthesizer backend based on espeak. If you want to play around with synthesizing, you will either need this or festival. Espeak usually provides voices for more languages than festival and the espeak backend is also a bit more versatile than the festival based one (which does not support voice pitch or rate control). Most desktop linux distributions provide packages for espeak.

For instance for Fedora you'd need espeak and espeak-devel (along with their dependencies).


Winthorpe has a synthesizer plugin that uses festival as the backend. If you want to play around with synthesizing, you might want to install this. You can load several synthesizer backends simulatanously to Winthorpe. They usually have different level of support for different languages, so if you want support for as many languages as possible, you should enable and load as many of them as you can (IOW, both as of now). Most desktop distributions provide packages for festival.

For instance on Fedora you'd need festival, festival-lib, and festival-devel (along with their dependencies).


If you plan to use the D-Bus client API, you'll need libdbus. For instance on Fedora you'd need dbus-devel (along with its dependencies). If you choose to enable D-Bus support, don't forget to enable it also in Murphy.


Currently you need to install GLib (glib-2.0 and gobject-2.0) to compile Withorpe, although none of Winthorpes core, or core plugins use GLib in any way. The only plugin utilizing glib (via gdbus) is the demo Tizen WRT media player client plugin. The current build system checks for glib and gobject regardless of whether this plugin is enabled or not. This will be fixed in the future. However, since many of Winthropes the dependencies pull in GLib on desktop distros anyway this should not be an insurmountable problem for now...

For instance on Fedora you'd need glib2-devel (along with its dependencies).


Additionally if you feel adventorous and plan to install Winthorpe and use systemd's socket-based activation as the mechanism to start Winthorpe you will need libsystemd-daemon from systemd.

For instance on Fedora you'd need systemd-devel (along with its dependencies).

Configuring And Compiling

Once you have all the prerequisites installed you should compile Winthorpe. If you have installed all of the above, you can do this by running the following sequence of commands in the top Winthorpe directory:

./bootstrap --prefix=/usr --sysconfdir=/etc --enable-gpl --enable-dbus \
            --enable-sphinx --enable-espeak --enable-festival \


If everything goes well, you should end up with the Winthorpe daemon and a set of Winthorpe plugins successfully compiled. You can start up and test the daemon without installing it with the following command:

./src/srs-daemon -P `pwd`/src/.libs -c speech-recognition.conf -f -vvv \
    -s sphinx.pulsesrc=alsa_input.pci-0000_00_1b.0.analog-stereo

Just replace the value sphinx.pulsesrc is set to with the name of the PulseAudio source corresponding to the mike you want to use. That's it, now you should have the daemon up and running. You can try synthesis for instance with the native client like this:

Using pa_manloop...
Connection to server established.
connected> list voices
connected> render tts "Is this able to speak now ?" -events
0.000000 % (0 msec) of TTS #3 rendered...
13.874767 % (249 msec) of TTS #3 rendered...
19.852016 % (357 msec) of TTS #3 rendered...
100.000000 % (1801 msec) of TTS #3 rendered...
Rendering of TTS #3 completed.
connected> render tts "Is this able to speak now ?" -events -voice:english-british-male-1
Rendering of TTS #4 started...
0.000000 % (0 msec) of TTS #4 rendered...
13.870927 % (249 msec) of TTS #4 rendered...
98.981004 % (1783 msec) of TTS #4 rendered...
100.000000 % (1802 msec) of TTS #4 rendered...
Rendering of TTS #4 completed.