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Multilingual browsers make Web worldly

Internet World attendees got to surf the Web in multiple languages and talk to their search engines.

Internet World attendees this week got to surf the Web in multiple languages and talk to their search engines.

Alis Technologies today unveiled Tango, a multilingual browser created in partnership with Spyglass, to U.S. audiences. Tango includes interfaces in English, French, Italian, German, Russian, Spanish, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Swedish, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Malay.

Users can set their own language preferences to query Web servers. For example, if a user chooses Greek as first preference, then Spanish, then English as a last resort, every Web connection made will first check for content in that lingual order.

The software ranges from $40 to $70, depending on bundling options, and is available now for Windows 3.1 and Windows 95. Tango also reads multiple character sets on the same page but does not translate them.

BBN isn't ready to introduce a product but did demonstrate new technology to let users talk their way through the Web. The company is demonstrating Speak'n'Surf, speech recognition technology with a 40,000-word vocabulary that works with Web search engines such as Lycos, Alta Vista, and InfoSeek. The company claims there is no need to train the software to recognize the voices of specific users.

"It lets you talk to your computer the way you'd talk to a librarian or researcher," BBN engineer Sean Colbath said. "Instead of using keywords, you'd say, 'I want to know more about gas prices in California.'"

Colbath claims the technology has an accuracy rate of 85 percent to 90 percent. BBN is looking for search engine providers or other companies to license the Speak'n'Surf technology and incorporate it into their services, but the company didn't announce any deals.

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