As industry leaders and analysts prepare for the fourth annual SpeechTEK 98 conference and exhibition, scheduled for Oct. 27 and 28 at the New York Hilton, the technology itself continues to gain acceptance from a wider audience. This year speech recognition software became plainly visible at major retail outlets. CEOs, and not just Bill Gates, now use the phrase speech recognition without feeling a need to explain what is meant by the term. National computer publications, as well as major business magazines have featured full length articles about speech technology in the past year. For people long familiar with the technology it can be a heady time. Anyone who can remember the quality of speech available as recently as the first SpeechTEK in 1995 knows how much speech recognition has improved, while simultaneously coming down in cost to a point where millions can use it. People have different opinions as to what has caused the breakthrough and what may be needed in the future to take the technology further ahead. In this issue of the magazine we profile several industry executives and researchers to get their ideas on what has sparked the interest in speech recognition and what developments we can expect to see in the near future. In a way, the wide variety of opinions and ideas expressed can be seen as another sign of a maturing industry.