Company ready to fill speech recognition demand

Company ready to fill speech recognition demand

SpeechWorks, with a new, better-performing software release, plans to focus on the federal market

By William Jackson
GCN Staff

The Internet has set the stage for what SpeechWorks International Inc. predicts will be explosive use of speech recognition.

'The demand has come,' said Michael Phillips, chief technology officer for the Boston company.

The recently released SpeechWorks 5.0 software uses the telephone as the front end for automated transactions or data retrieval, but by spoken word rather than with the 12-button keypad. SpeechWorks International has users in the banking, brokerage and travel industries, Phillips said, and it plans to focus attention on the federal market.

Although the telephone remains the ubiquitous information device, the voice recognition boomlet ironically is coming from Web applications, Phillips said. The Web has spurred front-end integration to back-end systems, and Web gateways give easy access for telephone applications. Also, the Web has led people to expect automated services more sophisticated than they can get from interactive voice response systems and telephone keypads.

With word recognition rates at 95 percent or better, 'the technology is good enough to do about any application we have seen' except for dictation, Phillips said. 'We're cutting error rates by a factor of two a year.'

Not only does the new SpeechWorks release make 37 percent fewer errors out of the box than the previous release, he said, but it uses 25 percent less computing power. A new feature called SmartRecognizer picks up accents and alternate pronunciations, cutting errors by 30 percent or more over time.

Other improvements include better name recognition through text-to-phoneme rules from E-Speech Corp. of Princeton, N.J., and access to a Postal Service database for address recognition. The package's drag-and-drop Dialog Modules can build applications using advanced speech recognition. SpeechWorks has 17 of the Dialog Modules for credit card expiration dates, natural numbers, times of day and Social Security numbers, among other things.

User authentication by voice also is possible. SpeechWorks offers a choice of SpeakerKey from ITT Industries Inc. of White Plains, N.Y., or Lucent Speech Solutions from Lucent Technologies Inc. of Murray Hill, N.J.

Graphical tuning tools pinpoint troublesome areas in an application so that voice prompts can be tweaked.

SpeechWorks 5.0 costs $500 to $1,500 per port, depending on the scope of the application to be developed.

Contact SpeechWorks at 617-428-4444 and say, 'SpeechWorks.'

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