Speech Technology Magazine

iCommunications Program Provides Multisenrosry Communications Solution to the Hearing Impaired

New product uses Dragon NaturallySpeaking V.7.0 as the underlying speech and voice recognition engine.
Posted Jul 1, 2003
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PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL - The iCommunicator V.4.0 software program, a patented communication access technology, is now available. This tool provides a multisensory, interactive communication solution for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing and other persons who experience unique communication access challenges. The iCommunicator program converts speech to text and video sign language in real time. Speech or text also can be converted to computer-generated speech, and text can be converted to video sign language.

The iCommunicator program promotes independent communication and is offered as an alternative, rather than a replacement, for sign language interpreters. The program delivers American Sign Language signs in English word order (subject+verb+object) to improve the association between spoken, written, and signed words. There are more than 9200 individual video signs in the program's lexicon. Unlike the early versions of the technology (Versions 2.1.1 and earlier), V.4.0 offers reengineered video sign language for enhanced speed of translation. Careful evaluation of potential end user (or application) needs and system features is encouraged to ensure that the iCommunicator program is a viable technology solution. Candidacy Criteria Considerations were developed to assist professional evaluation and planning teams in making these decisions.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional, V.7.0, is the speech and voice recognition engine that underlies iCommunicator, V.4.0. This latest version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking offers speech-to-text translation. Speakers can establish a speech/voice profile in an short period of time and achieve high accuracy.

The professionally calibrated LightSPEED 360 FM system, coupled with the upgraded TK-250 noise canceling microphone, provides the speech input. The LightSPEED system is compatible with Phonak's Microlink and other 216 MHz FM systems that may be worn by some end users. In addition, the FM system will transmit up to 300 ft., thus giving speakers flexibility when they are transmitting to the computer. Peripheral assistive hearing devices (e.g., FM systems, hearing aids, cochlear implants) may be coupled with the computer.

With the iText tool, end users can have e-mail, web pages, and documents created in other applications to be signed and/or spoken through the iCommunicator program. Speech-to-text translation can be saved for future reference; however, it is saved in Rich Text Format. The iText tool allows other types of documents to be accessed quickly through the iCommunicator program.

End users or implementation managers can install the software program on a notebook or desktop computer. The professional training manual includes four instructional modules to assist end users in learning about the unique features of the program, and to guide implementation managers in the overall use of the software program and peripherals. Speakers can easily establish and personalize their speech/voice recognition profile by following the step-by-step instructions. The Professional Version Kit includes: iCommunicator V.4.0 software; Dragon NaturallySpeaking, V.7.0; User Guide; Training Manual; Install Guide; audio cables (audio connector cord, audio Y-cable); professionally calibrated LightSPEED LES 360 FM system with TK-250 noise canceling microphone; hardware security key. A Standard Version kit that includes the Parrott Bermuda direct-connect microphone instead of the FM system is also available.

The iCommunicator V.4.0 program runs on a high-end notebook or desktop computer that meets the minimum computer hardware specifications. The program is compatible with the Microsoft accessibility features and is compatible with Section 508 requirements. On a notebook computer, the iCommunicator becomes a portable, interactive solution to communication access challenges in multiple environments. The manufacturer recommends Windows XP or 2000 as the preferred operating system for maximum performance. For enhanced speed and accuracy, a 1 GHz processor and 512 MB RAM is suggested.

  • Processor: Pentium III, 800MHz
  • Memory: 256 MB RAM
  • Hard Drive: 2GB available space on Drive C
  • Parallel Port: Must have parallel port to attach hardware security key
  • Video: 8MB
  • Display Resolution: 800x600 screen area capability; high quality
  • Sound/Speakers: SoundBlaster Pro Compatible
  • CD-ROM: 24X (or DVD-ROM)
  • Software: Word Processing Program
  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP, 2000, or 98SE

    The iCommunicator, V.4.0, Professional Version Kit retails at $3,999 and the Standard Version Kit at $3,689. The iCommunicator is developed and manufactured by Teltronics, Inc., Sarasota, FL.

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