Cynics might argue it's not for the first time, but a slew of Comdex observers were once again ready to offer that next year may be 'The Year of Speech Recognition'.
Supporters could point to IBM's hype for its ViaVoice software and perhaps even more to Lernout & Hauspie's (L&H) VoiceXpress. The $70 headphone/software kit will ship early next year in the UK and looks set to be a contender to win best-of-breed tests. In a compelling booth demonstration, staff showed an excellent recognition level based on orthodox continuous speech.
VoiceXpress differs from other products in its category in its ability to let voice control format and editing features. Users can, for instance, change line spacing or indent paragraphs without touching the keyboard. The customisable vocabulary supports a huge 65,000 words. L&H recommends a base configuration of 32Mb RAM.
"We try not to say too much about 1998 being 'the year of speech' but it does look as if speech recognition is finally emerging," said a spokeswoman for the firm.