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New Year, New Names

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This year looks a bit brighter for speech technology as it further penetrates new and existing industries. The automotive industry, for example, has recently been promoting speech recognition as a selling point in some of its cars. You may have seen the recent "Play-Artist-Michael-Bolton" television commercial, promoting Microsoft Sync technology in the 2008 Ford Focus, which voice-activates mobile phones and digital music players. It’s pretty cool stuff, unless, of course, you actually have Michael Bolton on your MP3 player.

But it’s not just cool technology. Speech in automobiles also promotes safety, especially in dangerous driving situations. We’re seeing some early adoption of in-car speech systems in police cruisers to preserve the safety of police officers in pursuit (see the story "Out of Harm’s Way," page 45, by Editorial Assistant Ryan Joe).

Good marketing along with valuable products will go a long way in facilitating the growth of the speech technology industry. And some analysts are already optimistic. Strategy Analytics predicts speech in the automotive industry will jump from $4.4 billion in 2005 to $6.5 billion by 2013, according to the article "Voice Fuels the Car’s Future" (page 11), by Senior Editor Leonard Klie.

Like the industry it covers, Speech Technology magazine has a brighter outlook for 2008 as we’re introducing a few new columns and columnists to the magazine. This issue marks the launch of our Interact column (page 5), focusing on VUI design tips, strategies, and developments. Susan Hura, Ph.D., founder and principal at VUI design consultancy Speech Usability, will co-write the column with Melanie Polkosky, Ph.D., a social-cognitive psychologist and speech-language pathologist as well as a human factors psychologist and senior consultant for IBM.

Our Inside Outsourcing column (page 6), which will run in every issue, offers tips and best practices from large speech technology outsourcing and consulting companies. The first installment starts with some advice from Aaron Fisher, director of speech services at West Interactive. In addition to West, this column will also feature speech technology experts from Convergys and EDS.

In Other Words (page 50), a column dedicated to speech technology translation issues, will be written by Sue Ellen Reager, CEO and founder of translation services company and localization software developer @International Services. This column will alternate with another new column, Standards, which focuses on—you guessed it—tips and advice on speech technology standards. Deborah Dahl, Ph.D., principal at speech and language technology consulting firm Conversational Technologies and chair of the W3C’s Multimodal Interaction Working Group, will write this column.

All other columns will remain; however, the Industry View column will be written by Moshe Yudkowsky, Ph.D., president of Disaggregate Consulting. I’m optimistic about what lies ahead for the industry and I look forward to working with our existing and new contributors in the coming year.

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