Software developer Dragon Software is banking on the increased adoption of voice recognition into the mainstream market and is opening a local office to correspond with the launch of its latest version of NaturallySpeaking.
Andreas Widmer, vice president of sales, Asia-Pacific and Latin America, claims Version 4 can achieve accuracy levels of more than 90 per cent after a short training session and has an active vocabulary of 160,000 words.
Yet, most significantly, Widmer says the software actually understands what is being said rather than just being able to hear the spoken word. It is also the ability of the software to adopt to a user in about five minutes that is truly revolutionary, said Widmer.
`Speech recognition will change the fundamentals of computing. It will free people from the physical and visual constraints of PCs,' said Widmer.
An enterprise version of the software began worldwide distribution last week and will be available in Australia around Christmas/New Year.
To further attract the corporate user Dragon will introduce into Australia the NaturallySpeaking Mobile and the NaturallySpeaking Organiser, which began rolling out globally last week.
`This means your computer will behave like a personal assistant,' said Widmer.
The organiser looks and acts much like a small dictaphone. Yet when it is connected to a PC the recording is transcribed. A user can dictate messages that need to be sent and the NaturallySpeaking organiser will send them. Diary entries can be updated and addresses added to files.
With Dragon software already available in over 600 retail outlets around Australia, the company is looking to further expand its presence in the Asia-Pacific region. Ellen Doran, the newly appointed regional manager to be based in Sydney, envisages continued uptake of speech recognition technology in general. `We have grown 300 per cent in Australia over the last year but are still looking to expand our channel,' she said.
Resellers wanting to jump on the speech recognition bandwagon can only benefit, according to Doran, who believes that the solutions resellers now offer customers will soon be obsolete.
Yet the channel will have to manage the Star Trek like expectations that consumers have of voice recognition. `They'll need to be knowledgeable about the product and hold a lot of hands, walk the customers through the process,' said Widmer.
Dragon will initiate a volume licensing program `to make it easier for resellers to sell', said Doran.
NaturallySpeaking Version 4
Requires a 200MHz Pentium processor or equivalentCD-ROM and 200MB of disk space needed for installationMicrophone is included with the softwareUsers can dictate up to 160 words per minuteFeatures multi-user supportIncludes speech-enabled Internet navigation toolsCan control the desktop via voice commandsIntegrates with Microsoft Word, Corel WordPerfect, Lotus Notes, WordPro and Internet chat packages