Dragon releases new voice technology

New voice-recognition from Dragon Systems aims for a more "realistic" level of functionality.

Dragon Systems has upped the ante for speech recognition systems, claiming a 95 percent accuracy rate after just five minutes' training with version 4 of its Naturally Speaking software. This compares to an average of forty to fifty minutes with the majority of products on the market today.

Dragon also issued a call to the industry to stop unrealistically raising customer's expectations. "Speech is not yet a tool for everybody. However, if you use it realistically in your day to day life, you can achieve 100 percent accuracy," said Tom Ruiter, regional director of Dragon Systems.

Ruiter suggests that in the meantime consumers stick to using voice recognition for surfing the Web or typing in chat rooms. The dictation possibilities are best suited to professional PAs in such industries where the vocabulary doesn't vary much, such as for dictating legal documents, according to Ruiter.

However Jeff Foley, product manager Dragon Systems, said that voice technology was on track to become ubiquitous: "The technology is at the same stage as the mouse was when it was first introduced. People are only just starting to build applications around it."

The new version of Naturally Speaking has been localised for the UK, with words such as Halifax and Alan Shearer now instantly recognised. Extensive Internet capabilities have also been added, allowing you to surf the Web, send email and so on by voice.

Naturally Speaking 4 will be in the shops from 1 October, at prices ranging from £29.95 to £129.95.