IBM researchers are working on a computerised voice that should be almost indistinguishable from a human. The technology is called "generating paralinguistic phenomena via markup in text-to-speech syntheses" and has been programmed to include verbal tics such as "ums", "ers", coughs and sighs.
Computer experts at IBM have invented the technology to be used on telephone helplines, satellite navigation systems and even on cameras or iPods.
It is so sophisticated that the devices will be able to pause for effect or cough to attract the users' attention, spelling an end to the irritating monotone voices that have become a part of everyday modern life.
Andy Aaron, of IBM's Thomas J Watson research group speech team, said: "These sounds can be incredibly subtle, even unnoticeable, but have a profound psychological effect. It can be extremely reassuring to have a more attentive-sounding voice.