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Philips Adds Speech To Nino

Philips will take the first step toward integrating speech-recognition software into its products with the introduction next week of an upgraded Nino handheld PC that includes the technology.

Philips’ next step will be to migrate use of the technology from computers to its consumer electronic products.

Philips also announced a strategic agreement with IBM to license Big Blue’s text-to-speech technology and to work jointly on further developing this software category, said Ron van den Bos, president/CEO of Philips speech recognition division.

The cooperative effort will include adding to the nine languages that can be understood by the software and creating an industry standard for speech-recognition software.

Pricing and shipping details on the new Nino are not available, but the HPC will utilize the core technology developed for Philips FreeSpeech 2000 speech-recognition software that will start shipping later this year, a Philips spokesman said. The Nino will have the ability to convert speech to text and react to voice commands.

Philips’ road map for future speech-enabled products includes a wide range of possibilities – including televisions and VCRs. For example, said van den Bos, “a person could talk to a TV and tell it to change channels or to a VCR and tell it what to record.”

W. S. Osborne, IBM’s general manager of speech systems, said the company’s vision has speech recognition playing a role in the home, with various electronic devices networked via a computer. If the end user tells a VCR to record a specific show, for example, the computer would search the Internet and find details about the show. This information could include whether the show is a rerun or if the consumer has already recorded it, Osborne said.

IBM has included its ViaVoice speech-recognition software in many of its Aptiva PC models for the past year.