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Speech interface shows the true potential of handheld computers



Cliff Saran

Lernout & Hauspie (L&H) is demonstrating a prototype handheld computer which does not require a stylus, a screen or...

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Cliff Saran

Lernout & Hauspie (L&H) is demonstrating a prototype handheld computer which does not require a stylus, a screen or handwriting recognition at CeBIT this week.

The Linux-based handheld computer uses a speech interface. L&H claims the device supports continuous speech dictation, enabling a user to easily send and receive e-mail, surf the Web and conduct e-commerce transactions simply by using voice commands.

The device also includes the company's Realspeak text-to-speech technology that reads text aloud. The voice interface has been designed to allow a user to listen to e-mail summaries as well as full-text e-mails. In addition, users will be able to issue natural language commands such as "next message" or "send e-mail" and dictate e-mail messages.

The technology has a number of applications for users on the road. L&H said it can be used for hands-free control of a handheld computer. But the real potential of a speech interface is that it removes the need for users to key in and read information on a tiny screen - a problem for mobile users.

Gaston Bastiaens, president and CEO of L&H said, "Most users find that manual information input and output is awkward because of the small size of handheld and mobile devices."

Bastiaens believes that speech offers the most intuitive, logical way around the awkward user interface on handheld computers.

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