Microsoft unveils Voice Command technology

Microsoft has introduced voice-controlled software for Windows Mobile-based Pocket PCs and Pocket PC Phone Edition.

Microsoft has introduced voice-controlled software for Windows Mobile-based Pocket PCs and Pocket PC Phone Edition.

Microsoft said Voice Command allows users to have speaker-independent, hands-free voice interaction with their phone applications, including contacts and calendars.

It has spent the past 10 years researching the software - technology which uses phonetic speech-recognition technology to allow users to use natural language. This would be as opposed to pre-recorded prompts, where the user would have to say the prompt the exact way it is recorded to be successful.

To activate the technology, the user would, either through a headset or directly into the device, say the name of the person they want to call or state a phone number they want dialled.

To activate the voice-controlled calendar, users would ask the device when their next appointment is, and the time, subject and location of each entry would be read aloud, Microsoft said.

To launch the voice-controlled applications, the user would say what application they wish to use including Internet Explorer, Outlook, Tasks and calculator.

Warren Wilson, a practice director at Summit Strategies, said the great hope with this technology is that it will be capable enough to simplify the process of interacting with small-screen devices.

He added that by simplifying the user's interaction with these small "clunky devices", the adoption barriers that have existed in the enterprise will be broken.

"[Microsoft] can certainly afford to take a leadership position, and the market is open for someone to take a leadership position right now," said John Jackson, an analyst with The Yankee Group.

The minimum requirements for successful installation of Voice Command include: Windows Mobile 2003 software for Pocket PC or Pocket PC Phone Edition; Microsoft ActiveSync 3.7 technology; Microsoft Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows Millennium Edition or Windows 98 Second Edition operation system and a CD-Rom drive.

Voice Command technology was originally designed as a safety application for professionals who spend a lot of time on their phones while driving. Since beta testing the product however, Microsoft said it has realised that any mobile professional would benefit from the technology.

Voice Command software is available now on www.Handango.com and www.PocketPC.com for $40 (£24).

Lindsay Bruce writes for ITWorldCanada.com

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