MacSpeech + Nuance = Dictate

Speech recognition software provider MacSpeech announced today at the Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco that it would replace its existing iListen speech-to-text software with a new Dictate product that uses technology from Nuance Communications' Dragon NaturallySpeaking software.

Previously, MacSpeech sold iListen, a consumer product made exclusively for Macs, and Nuance's speech-to-text products only ran on PC platforms. While iListen provided speech recognition for Apple users, the product came without Nuance programming. And while both programs perform the same function, Dictate contains entirely new code, and was formulated by a different team of engineers than iListen. Rather than enter the market with a Mac-compatible version of Dragon, Nuance's Peter Mahoney, vice president and general manager of desktop dictation units, says the company looked for a partnership.

"For awhile we were selling ViaVoice products, and they had a Mac versionof that, but there wasn't a very large demand in the past," Mahoney explains. "Now we're at the point where Apple has done very well, we're seeing a big growth in that area, and this was a way for us to help participate inthe market and respond to some of that demand."

Among Dictate’s newer features is the ability to switch from dictation to spoken commands without changing modes, the ability to perform simple navigation, and greater accuracy—MacSpeech says Dictate runs at 99 percent accuracy.

Dictate is expected to hit shelves February 15 at a cost of $199 for first-time users, $99 for existing iListen customers, and $25 for iListen customers who purchased the software in 2008. Once Dictate is released, iListen will no longer be available in stores. The software is only compatible with Intel-based Macs running Mac OS X 10.4.11 or higher.

In an article posted to Macsimum News, Ron Okamoto, Apple’s vice president of worldwide developer relations, said the Dictate product release is also a way for Apple to extend its brand to those with disabilities or other accessibility issues. Currently, Mac OS X models also include VoiceOver, a built-in computer screen reader.

"Apple’s commitment to accessibility is evident throughout Mac OS X, including such ground-breaking features as VoiceOver, our built-in screen reader," Okamoto said in the article. "We’re delighted that Mac OS X users now have access to advanced speech-to-text dictation technology from MacSpeech, which nicely complements VoiceOver."

Though the product improves accessibility for people with disabilities, Mahoney also adds that the dictation products are increasingly being used for traditional consumer needs.

"The target for this product is not especially the accessibility market; it's the general user and consumer market, and I think we're seeingthat with dictation in general," he states. "Dragon was used, in earyl versions, by people who dictated for their business, or they had adisability, and we've seen that shift significantly."

Related Links:

- Goodbye iListen, Hello, MacSpeech Dictate (Macsimum News)

- MacSpeech Unveils Dictate (Macworld)

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