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December 9th, 1999

[11:45 AM] ViaVoice Speech Recognition Here At Last!
by Staff

A new day has dawned for the Mac as IBM is releasing ViaVoice for the Mac. ViaVoice is IBM's continuous speech recognition software that was demo'd at MACWORLD New York in July. The package is priced for consumers and includes a noise reducing microphone. According to IBM:

IBM today announced the availability of ViaVoice Millennium Edition 1.0 for Macintosh, the first-to-market continuous speech recognition software for the Macintosh platform.

ViaVoice for Mac provides users with an intuitive, easy-to-use interface to perform everyday computer tasks, such as creating e-mail and editing documents, by speaking. The software is available this week on store shelves, online and in catalogs in time for the holiday buying season.

"IBM listened to the thousands of requests from Mac enthusiasts and brought its leading ViaVoice speech recognition technology to one of the most popular operating platforms," said Krishna Nathan, director of consumer voice systems, IBM Speech Systems. "ViaVoice for Mac is part of our continuing effort to make it easier and more natural for people to interact with their computer. IBM is the only company to offer its speech recognition technology on all of the most popular desktop operating platforms -- Windows, Linux and Macintosh."

"We are thrilled IBM is bringing its award-winning speech recognition software to the Mac," said Clent Richardson, Apple's vice president of Worldwide Developer Relations. "ViaVoice for Mac makes the most user-friendly Mac even easier to use."

The ViaVoice Advantage

Based on IBM's award-winning speech recognition technology, ViaVoice for Mac speech recognition software was created with simplicity in mind. The software incorporates an easy-to-use interface specifically designed for the Mac platform -- making it both easy and natural for all Mac users to conduct common computing tasks. ViaVoice for Mac provides users with the ability to create, edit and format documents in the most natural way. After text is created, the software's integrated transfer feature lets users transfer text into popular Macintosh applications, such as AppleWorks or Microsoft Word. Users can create voice shortcuts for commonly used phrases by literally "calling" them out with the software's dictation macro editor. ViaVoice for Mac includes a 64,000 active word vocabulary, the largest on the market for Macintosh, and also integrates Apple's text-to-speech function that lets Apple computers read text back to the user. Also included with the product is a newly designed noise canceling microphone for Mac users. This new mic has changeable colored accents to coordinate with all the popular iMac flavors.

Power for ViaVoice for Macintosh

IBM's ViaVoice for Mac runs on Mac OS 8.5.1, 8.6 and 9.0. The software requires a 233 MHz Power PC processor or higher, 48 MB RAM, 200 MB of hard disk space and a CD-ROM drive. The software runs on iMac, PowerMac G3 and G4, and PowerBook G3 computers, and requires an audio input jack that is compatible with Andrea NC-71 microphones.

IBM says the product should be available in stores this week. ViaVoice is priced at US$89.95. You can find more information on the product at the company's web site.

The Mac Observer Spin: Speech Recognition is one area where the Mac has had nowhere near as many options as Windows users had. DragonSpeech has long dominated the market and paid little attention to the Mac market until earlier this year. ViaVoice offers serious competition to their market lead, and our guess is that IBM will sell quite a few copies of this product to Mac users.

Voice-recognition will play a big part in the future of computing. While we have not yet reached the point where we can carry on converstations with our computers, that day gets closer all the time. ViaVoice for the Mac is a big step forward to that end.

IBM



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