'Talking to your PC isn't all talk,' says speech specialist

‘Talking to your PC isn’t all talk,’ says speech specialist
Richard Ball Speech recognition will become the standard way for people to operate their computers and cars in the coming decade. So revealed Gaston Bastiaens, president and CEO of Belgium speech recognition specialist Lernout & Hauspie in an exclusive interview with EW. “If we look at the business of speech technology, we are at an important stage. Because of the power of microprocessors and advanced algorithms we can offer high quality speech recognition that can be applied to computers, cars and other areas,” said Bastiaens. “We will be able to talk to computers in the same way we talk to people. We are already seeing the first flavours of this,” he said. Companies including STMicroelectronics have developed in-car systems that link navigation and a GSM phone – all being voice controlled. Philips is among the leaders developing advanced PDA-type products with voice control. Lernout & Hauspie has software that allows PC users to dictate Word files. This summer, the company will release Voice Express Pro which works with all Windows programs and allowing users to talk naturally, without pausing between words. “Dictation and document generation are taking off rapidly, especially in the medical market,” said Bastiaens. But speech recognition will not just be for the business user, believes Bastiaens, but will help in education: “There are programs that help people with dyslexia. They cannot get an education in line with their intelligence.” Eventually we will all become used to dictating requests to a PC or some other electronic equipment, and the technology will become pervasive. TVs with built-in Web browsers will be controlled by speech and home banking can have the additional security of voice identification. “A lot of people are developing systems using Windows CE where voice will be the main input method,” Bastiaens said. The company’s drivers for voice recognition are built in to Microsoft’s operating system. With its Microsoft link, Lernout & Hauspie is poised to play a leading part in the market. The company is not relying on Microsoft however, having some compelling credentials of its own. “We have speech technology in 16 languages,” Bastiaens pointed out.

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