Latest Voice Recognition News

October 07, 2007

Testing voice-recognition software: A small business owner puts three packages to the test

Many business owners regularly talk to inanimate objects. Don't believe me? I'm guessing that in the last week alone you've begged your PC not to lose valuable data or implored your notebook to recover lost documents. While we all have one-sided conversations with our tech toys, we generally don't expect them to answer, much less complete tasks simply because we say so. But today's voice-activated software promises to do just that, claiming faster speeds and an impressive 99% accuracy level.

Several years ago I fell and permanently injured the nerves in my right hand, so too much keyboard time can literally cramp my style. Hoping to ease the strain, I recently tested the latest versions of three popular voice-recognition software packages: Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional 9 ($899), IBM ViaVoice Pro USB Edition, version 10 ($189.99), and the speech-recognition software included in the Ultimate version of Microsoft's new Vista operating system ($399). I tried all three systems on notebooks and desktops running various versions of Windows XP's small-business edition. I used them for everything from dictating e-mail to composing formal marketing pitches. Each system started easily at the click of an icon. But before they would follow my orders, I had to teach them my speech patterns by reading several scripts that appeared onscreen.

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Cisco: voice-recognition next on acquisition menu?

Cisco may be on the acquisition trail again this time hunting for voice recognition technology. The network giant has made 122 acquisitions since 1993.

Barry O'Sullivan, head of Cisco's Voice Technology Group, told Reuters the company wants to add more sophisticated voice-recognition technology to its products aimed at helping office workers communicate more flexibly. He was not sure if the network equipment maker would develop such technology internally or through partnerships or acquisitions. In the past however Cisco hasn't been one to wait too long to jump on a technology it considers hot.

And from the sounds of it, voice recognition is showing up a lot more on Cisco's radar: "We'd like to be able to do things like search for stored conference calls, and intelligent tagging of voice," O'Sullivan told Reuters. "There's a $30 billion market opportunity out there. We're all circling around it with different strengths and we all want a piece of the pie."

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