Dictation Products Break Through With More on the Horizon

Predicting the next technological breakthrough in any industry is often extremely difficult. But right now interpreting the near term future of speech recognition is pretty obvious. If the truth be known, it may not require a much more complicated thought process than a rooster goes through upon seeing the first light of the rising sun. Recent months have seen dramatic breakthroughs in continuous speech dictation products, with more natural sounding speech recognition becoming available at prices that are attracting the interest of major companies. In the spring Dragon Systems announced Naturally Speaking, the first general purpose, large vocabulary, continuous speech recognition product. For many speech veterans, it had been a long time coming. "When I first started in speech recognition 25 years ago, there was some doubt that this day would ever come," said Jim Baker, CEO and co-founder of Dragon. Within weeks, IBM announced an enhanced version of their Simply Speaking software, and gave dealers and press representatives a sneak peek at ViaVoice their first general purpose continuous speech dictation product. The company also announced a very competitive price point for ViaVoice, $199. Lernout & Hauspie, which recently acquired speech recognition pioneer Kurzweil, in part to speed their development of a continuous speech dictation product, is expected to announce such a product this fall, well ahead of pre-acquisition predictions. The new wave of continuous dictation products has already caught the attention of the leading companies in the country. Tim Connolley, CEO of Applied Voice Recognition, Inc., said that in this quarter AVRI (currently beta testing ViaVoice) had sold systems to four of the top five on the Fortune 500 list. It all points to an exciting future for speech recognition, and the first place for readers to get a first hand look at the new wave of continuous dictation products is the upcoming SpeechTEK conference and exhibition, at the New York Hilton, Sept. 30-Oct. 1. The developments also warrant an expansion of our magazine's coverage of the dictation products arena. Beginning with the next issue we will be providing our readers with a regular column analyzing the latest developments in the field.
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