More words from IBM on voice recognition

More words from IBM on voice recognition

Following extensive research conducted among existing ViaVoice users, IBM has announced the release of the latest version of its speech recognition software.

Hyping ViaVoice 98 as "the next-generation software", IBM representatives said the product has been enhanced to allow both business and home users simpler and more productive PC management.

Earnestly described as a package that "reinvents speech", ViaVoice 98 features modeless voice recognition that eliminates the need to switch between command and dictation modes. Instead of uttering instructions, IBM claims ViaVoice 98 users can now format, dictate and correct their scripts without prompting the system to do so.

"This is a very intelligent software that actually understands you," Rita Frances, IBM's product manager, told ARN. "It is a product that will not only understand your commands, but will also distinguish commands from speech dictation and tell you what the system wants from you."

ViaVoice 98 product range comes with a base vocabulary of 56,000 words and the capacity to add some 64,000 more words.

According to officials, this represents a 50 per cent increase from earlier versions of IBM's speech recognition range.

Back in September, some Internet Voice Recognition Forum message board participants expressed reservations about the ViaVoice 98 package, complaining that previous versions were not "accurate enough to warrant their use".

Frances claims IBM has not received any such complaints.

"The new package is 90 per cent accurate," Frances said, adding that its three-minute installation and the introduction of "special topic" - to help users customise ViaVoice for professional use - set the product apart from other speech recognition offerings in the market.

Two versions

In order to meet the needs and budget of both home and business users respectively, IBM has released two editions of the package.

Both versions run on Windows 95 and 98, however the 98 Home Edition is not supported by Windows NT and offers only limited navigation features.

The IBM ViaVoice 98 Executive Edition is priced at $325 RRP, while the Home Edition sells for $129 RRP.

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