Speech Enters the iPod Realm

Last month, Air France, Continental, Delta, Emirates, KLM, and United decided to offer their passengers iPod seat connections which power and charge their iPods during flight and allow the video content on their iPods to be viewed on the their seat back displays. This is just one of the many areas into which Apple is expanding its iPod craze. It has even been sited on the international space station.

It comes as no surprise that speech is making inroads into the world of iPods. MacSpeech certified Apple Computer's Video iPod along with three microphone attachments designed for transcribing recorded speech into text. "This could bring more people to use speech technologies. It is yet another alternative input device which could be interesting evolutionary, in terms of technology," explains Walter Rolandi, founder and owner of The Voice User Interface Company. The three microphones tested with the Video iPod include Belkin TuneTalk, Griffin iTalk Pro, and Xtreme Mac MicroMemo. In order to dictate and transcribe recordings with the iPod, users must use the MacSpeech TranscriptionPak installed with the iListen application. The TranscriptionPak is a plugin into iListen that allows speech to be converted to text from an audio file, such as a wav or an aif file. "The iPod is a pervasive device - people of all ages have one. The most requested feature was to be able to do transcription with an iPod," says Chuck Rogers, chief evangelist, MacSpeech. The user plugs in the microphone attachment into the iPod, dictates to the iPod using the microphone and following the same rules for punctuation as used in most speech recognition devices, then transfers that audio file to their computer for transcription. "I would be interested to see how TranscriptionPak stacks up to other transcription services like Dragon NaturallySpeaking," Rolandi states.

One significant factor that indicated the need for dictation capabilities on iPods is that "Up until now you had to have a specific model of Olympus recorder to pull the correct format for transcription off the device onto a Macintosh computer," Rogers explains. People who already have a supported iPod do not have to buy an additional digital recorder to dictate while away from their computer.

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