Babel's Embedded Technology Helps the Disabled to Read; Babel and Ezos Sign Agreement

Babel Technologies, a developer of speech processing technologies, announced that PocketBabil, its Text-To-Speech (TTS) synthesizer technology, has been implemented in the new Dutch-language version of WizCom Technologies' Reading Pen II. The Reading Pen II is a portable device that enables disabled users to scan-in printed text and then see, and also hear the text read aloud. WizCom is a provider of hand-held scanning and recognition technologies, and this agreement is the most recent in a number of contract wins for Babel. PocketBabil is the embedded version of Babil, a multilingual TTS synthesizer, based on Babel Technologies' unique Multi Band Resynthesis Overlap Add (MBROLA) concatenative algorithm. This technology is now available in 18 languages. It is a software only system with a low computational load and enables development of new voices/languages. Reading Pen II, based on WizCom's second-generation hand-held scanner, is designed to provide assistive technology to help the disabled to read and learn. The success of the original English language product in the US and UK, prompted requests for other language versions. The product's integrated TTS mechanism offers users the choice to hear the whole scanned line or any individual word pronounced aloud. Additionally, users may choose to hear the syllabic breakdown of any word. The scanned word appears in an enlarged font on the pen's LCD screen for the benefit of sight-impaired users, and can be viewed in its entirety or divided into syllables. Users of Reading Pen II can build a list of the last 300 words scanned and transfer it to their PC for later reference. By enabling users to recall, pronounce and define these words again, learning becomes easier. Reading Pen II scans inverted and hyphenated text and is adjustable for left or right-handed users. The Dutch Reading Pen, to be released during Q4 2002, will be distributed internationally by Lexima BV a subsidiary of Ha-thek BV.


EZOS will embed Babel's Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) and Text-To-Speech (TTS) technology into its micro-browsers, which are developed specifically for mobile devices and currently embedded in the HP Jornada 928 Wireless Digital Assistant (WDA), the xda from O2 and the Sagem WA3050. Users of mobile devices featuring the new, speaker-independent voice-controlled browser, will be able to access the web, corporate networks and email services using voice commands (ASR). The device can then read aloud the content to the user (TTS). Implementing speech and language technology into a mobile device makes it easier for the user to multi-task, reducing time and increasing their efficiency and productivity. There are also considerable safety benefits in industries such as field sales where professionals spend much of their time on the road and may need to access customer information and directions from their corporate database whilst driving. Commenting on the announcement, Vincent Fontaine, CEO of Babel Technologies said: "Speaking to a device remains the easiest way to control it. This is particularly true where there are a number of menus that need to be navigated. With a device like a PDA, voice control provides quicker and more convenient access to the most commonly used functions. He added: "By combining our technologies, Babel and EZOS offer an attractive proposition for any manufacturer that wants to offer speech and language technology to a noisy or mobile environment. Jean-Claude Streel, EZOS' business development manager, said: "Babel is a strategic partner for EZOS. With 18 languages, Babel has the biggest language catalogue in ASR and TTS, an important factor for our global customer base. Furthermore, Babel's technology is speaker independent and able to understand and interpret different voices and accents."

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