Magazine article Black Enterprise

Have You Talked to Your PC? Voice-Recognition Software for Business

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Have You Talked to Your PC? Voice-Recognition Software for Business

Article excerpt

Talking directly to your computer, instead of using a keyboard, has gone from a fantasy to a reality. Speech recognition has been available since the mid-'80s, but the products were costly and inaccurate. Many of them required specialized systems like the IBM RS6000 workstations, which added to the enormous cost of the software.

However, speech-to-text technology has improved with time, thanks to improved development, powerful CPUs and digital signal processors (DSP). For about $1,000, you can now get a DSPbased sound board, a headset, microphone and dictation software that recognizes at least 30,000 words.

Voice-recognition software is readily available to the consumer. Owners of small and mid-sized businesses may find it very profitable for their operations in the long run. Voice-recognition software provides an alternative that can complement--and in some cases replace--the keyboard and mouse.

Although the technology is very impressive, it still has some rough spots. For example, there is no doubt that users can dictate a lengthy document or a memo using this software, but in most cases, you will be forced to . . . pause . . . after. . . each . . .word. That can wear on your patience, especially if you have a great deal of work to do.

Even with the rough edges, speech-to-text software has tremendous growth opportunity. One reason is that consumers, primarily business travelers, have a great need to remotely access their computer systems while on the road. Speech-to-text software as an input/output device is currently being used that way.

AT&T has already developed software to bring this technology into mainstream use. Over 1 million calls a day--calling card and collect service--in AT&T's long-distance network are handled with speech-recognition technology. "This development is great for a small business. Instead of having a receptionist, you can have around-the-dock service without having to pay a salary," says Chester Anderson, technical marketing director for AT&T's Advance Speech Products Group in Middletown, N. …

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