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Speech tech comes to TV, handhelds

November 19, 1999
Web posted at: 3:49 p.m. EST (2049 GMT)

by Jana Sanchez


LAS VEGAS (IDG) -- Even before speech translation technology becomes common on the desktop, its developers are busy pushing it beyond the desktop to handheld appliances and television.

Exhibitors here at Comdex, including Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products, Dragon Systems and MultiLingual Media announced products and alliances that are likely to result in automatic translation services more widely available on more appliances.

VideoCNN's Anne McDermott reports on the gee whiz items available at this year's Comdex.
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GlobalTV, a new product for international cable and satellite TV operators, allows near-instantaneous translation of English-language programming, said Larry Silverman, the company's chief executive officer, in an interview with IDG News Service Wednesday. It can be used to translate programs such as news, sports or other timely information. Manual translations take too long for such time-sensitive programs, Silverman said.

GlobalTV uses machine translation of the closed captioning text to produce subtitles in Spanish, French, German, English, Portuguese or Italian. It's not 100-percent accurate, Silverman conceded.

"They have to be translated enough so they can be understood and enjoyed." Aided by the images on the screen, however, that goal becomes easier, Silverman said. "It's not perfect, but we want 95-percent comprehension."

The product, which includes hardware, software and maintenance, is available now for less than 50 cents per subscriber per month. GlobalTV's maker, MultiLingual Media, will announce its first major customer before Dec. 1, Silverman said.

Two other companies announced plans to put speech-recognition software onto handheld devices this week at Comdex. Lernout & Hauspie has licensed it Intellifinder Reference Engine International and CorrectSpell software to Symbian Ltd. for use on two handheld wireless devices.

Similarly, Dragon has begun shipping a multilanguage version of its NaturallySpeaking Mobile Organizer Version 4. It's a handheld digital recorder and organizer that works in conjunction with various desktop word processing and e-mail products. Users speak into the handheld device with commands such as "send e-mail" or "schedule meeting." The recorder stores, and when it is connected with a computer, the actions are completed.


L&H, Symbian expand language of handhelds
Mobiles to do more than phone home
Looking at speaking
IBM, Nokia expand speech partnership
Speech recognition at cusp of common use
(Federal Computer Week)
Are voice-enabled PCs for real?
(PC World Online)
Still struggling to be understood
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MultiLingual Media
Lernout & Hauspie
Dragon Systems
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