Voice recognition software has suffered from a history of disappointment, where performance has not lived up to expectation - in both operation and sales.
But all that is about to change, and there are further benefits for the Australian channel if the US trend is any indication.
Dragon Systems' Asia-Pacific director Graeme VanderStoel was in Australia to visit newly appointed distributor Marketing Results and talk to resellers about the latest in speech recognition technology.
"In the US, Dragon has become the seventh largest publisher of business software," he told ARN. This would indicate the high level of acceptance of speech software, especially considering that Dragon is basically a one-product company.
Speech software, as opposed to the mere commands of voice recognition, means that the user is able to dictate text, which can be converted into word processing files, thereby avoiding the need of a keyboard. Since the release of Dragon's NaturallySpeaking (retail product Point and Click through to the high-end NaturallySpeaking Preferred), many of the larger retailers have established dedicated speech areas, and with the release of competitive products such as IBM's ViaVoice 98, the category is gaining rapid acceptance.
Rodney Orrock, director of Marketing Results, claimed that the Dragon product is going extrem-ely well, outselling the IBM offering by five to one, while resellers are making good margins. But the benefits don't end at the software sale.
Orrock said that speech recognition is pushing hardware sales along and, at the very least, resellers are reporting that it is often leading to PC upgrade business. VanderStoel said: "We've found in the US, that over 50 per cent of purchasers have either bought new PCs or extra RAM."
Dragon is about to release a mobile phone sized handheld device into Australia, bundled with NaturallySpeaking Preferred, and called NaturallyMobile.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking Mobile, will allow users to create, edit and even format documents by speaking into a handheld device. Operated like a tape recorder, the device can be used to create .wav files. The files are later downloaded to a PC using a high-speed serial link, at which point they can be converted to text by means of the speech software.
The NaturallyMobile bundle is expected to sell for $899 (ESP). The device will also be available separately for customers who already have the NaturallySpeaking Preferred 3 software at a cost of $599.
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