Toshiba Corp. said Friday it has developed speech synthesis middleware covering eight languages, delivering text-to-speech with clarity and natural intonation.

The languages are Japanese, English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and Mandarin Chinese, the company said. The product also provides American and British pronunciations.

Toshiba plans to commercialize the middleware by the end of fiscal 2002.

Given its limited demands on memory and processing power, Toshiba said the middleware could be incorporated into car navigation systems and personal digital assistants.

“The world market for car navigation systems is expanding rapidly,” it said. “Toshiba’s new system is expected to prove particularly attractive to makers in Europe, who can use the same middleware in systems destined for different countries.”