Intechnica Projects $4 Million Sales on Voxbox Language System

By Case, Patti | THE JOURNAL RECORD, January 14, 1987 | Go to article overview

Intechnica Projects $4 Million Sales on Voxbox Language System


Case, Patti, THE JOURNAL RECORD


A feeling of horror overcame Stan Bolin, a United States civilian who got off a bus in the middle in Saigon, South Vietnam, during his first trip to the city in 1971.

The fear struck him when he realized he could not read any street signs, had no idea how to get out of the city, and efforts to communicate with natives were proving fruitless.

"I tried to ask for help," he recalls, "but it was futile. A rush of horror goes over you when you realize you don't have any way to communicate - you can't make your needs known."

Bolin did eventually find someone interested enough to help him return to the U.S. Air Force Base where he was staying. But 3 1/2 years working in Vietnam during the Vietnam War, and later years spent rearing three Vietnamese refugee children, heightened his awareness of the need for communication.

In his attempts to meet his own communication needs and those of the children he was raising, Bolin discovered a woeful lack of resources.

So, in April 1983 - when he formed his own company, Intechnica Inc., which markets business computer systems - he began a research and development project on a voice interactive language teaching system, which he is nearly ready to market in a spin-off company, Intechnica Learning Systems.

The company projects sales of about 1,500 units, based on domestic sales only, for fiscal year 1987 - about $4 million in gross sales, Bolin said. The main product, the "VoxBox," will sell for approximately $6,500 - a figure that may change as the company gains manufacturing experience.

"When we first started, the technology was not available to implement the idea," he said. "The application came before the technology. Not until a couple of years ago did speech technology have the voice quality we were looking for."

Mass storage is now available with laser disk mass storage systems, he said.

"That's the computer equivalent of audio compact disk technology," he said. "If there's anything projected to make a paperless society out of us, that's it. Storage capacity is 550 megabytes."

Bolin's partner, who became so as a result of his interest in the project, is Dr. Paul Edmonds, an Oklahoma City surgeon.

Also part of the Intechnica team is a small Oklahoma City company, Great American Miniatures, which provides technical advisement through its electronic engineering staff.

Great American Miniatures has done some design work and some board assembly, Bolin said.

The product itself, he said, amounts to:

- A multiplexer compatible with a Toshiba compact disk read-only-memory drive.

Oklahoma State University's Department of Electronic Engineering has developed the eight-user multiplexer - and has completed the prototype.

- A proprietary voice card. This will be used with the system, but also developed as a spin-off product, which will be sold separately. One customer, Meridian Micro Data of Oklahoma City, is developing educational software with a manufacturer of such sofware - American Educational Computer of California.

"They are developing their software around our card," Bolin said.

- The VoxBox - the packaged unit, which contains the compact disk drive, multi-user and voice technology. It is a computer accessory device that integrates the human voice, animated color graphics and text in teaching a variety of languages to its user. Because of the multiplexer, it can be connected to up to eight IBM-PCs simultaneously, Bolin said. …

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