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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 andtalking to your computer instead, your dreams are now a littlecloser to reality. Microsoft's new voice-controlled softwareisn't ready for the desktop big time, but it is available forPocket PC handhelds. Dubbed "Voice Command," the $39.95(street) package allows for natural language recognition, so youdon't need to "train" the software. It won'twrite e-mails for you, but it will let you open applications,control the media player, look up calendar appointments and makephone calls.

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

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