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Tech Buzz 3/04

Voice control, protecting your laptop and more.

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This story appears in the March 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

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If you've ever dreamed about chucking your keyboard and talking to your computer instead, your dreams are now a little closer to reality. Microsoft's new voice-controlled software isn't ready for the desktop big time, but it is available for Pocket PC handhelds. Dubbed "Voice Command," the $39.95 (street) package allows for natural language recognition, so you don't need to "train" the software. It won't write e-mails for you, but it will let you open applications, control the media player, look up calendar appointments and make phone calls.

Microsoft isn't the only company playing in the voice software arena. IBM, for example, has been at it a long time with its ViaVoice offering. Now represented by ScanSoft (www.scansoft.com), ViaVoice is a natural language recognition offering that, among other features, takes dictation. Accuracy issues and training time have long been stumbling blocks to widespread adoption. Microsoft's entry into this space signals a push into the mainstream.

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