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Tech Industry

IBM ships speech software

ViaVoice lets users dictate commands in a natural tone of voice and create documents popular word processing software.

IBM (IBM) has rolled out speech recognition software that lets users dictate commands and documents.

Priced at $99, the ViaVoice package includes a headset microphone and can be linked for text dictation to word processing software, such as Microsoft Word and WordPro, from IBM's Lotus subsidiary.

The dictation software will be integrated with Word Pro 97 beginning in October, according to the company, and will ship with Word Pro 98, the next release of the software, due next year.

Speech recognition software lets users dictate their documents into word processors and say which file to save or what application to launch, instead of typing commands. The ViaVoice software can accept dictation at speeds of up to 140 words per minute and lets users speak to the microphone in their normal voices, instead of the labored speech patterns required by older software.

In addition to understanding speech, IBM's ViaVoice also has the ability to read text back to the user--also known as text-to-speech.

"Business and individuals are clamoring for products that make computing easier, more productive and fun," said W.S. "Ozzie" Osborne, general manager of IBM Speech Systems.

An upcoming version of ViaVoice will expand the speech entry capability to commands rather than just text, further reducing the need for typing, Osborne said.

Reuters contributed to this report.