Amazon today announced it acquired the text-to-speech technology company IVONA Software. The Polish company, which now prominently refers to itself as "an Amazon company," is the brains behind the Kindle Fire's text-to-speech capabilities. IVONA currently offers 44 different voices in 17 different languages, with more in development. If you're curious, IVONA's site gives users the ability to try out its technology.
Amazon used to offer text-to-speech capabilities with some of its Kindle e-readers by enabling users to plug in a pair of headphones and listen to the dictation of almost any book (as long as publishers had opted in to the feature, of course). However, the latest Kindle Paperwhite does not include "Read to Me" capabilities—in fact, the device doesn't even include a headphone jack.
Though the text-to-speech feature was once classified as an experimental application on the Kindle, the acquisition of IVONA may finally make it a permanent staple on future Kindle e-reader devices. It would be helpful for users with visual impairments to have dictation options, rather than having to scope out an audiobook.