Xbox 360 keeps its voice

Microsoft extends contract with Fonix Speech for voice recognition software found in original Xbox.

Michael Singer
Michael Singer Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Despite additions to the Xbox 360, you'll still be able to trash talk your friends via the new console. That's because Microsoft is keeping the same voice recognition software found in the original Xbox for its next-generation game and entertainment device.

The software giant announced Tuesday that it has extended its contract with Fonix Speech, an operating division of Fonix in Salt Lake City. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The voice recognition feature debuted in the original Xbox design and became a key factor in Microsoft's launch of Xbox Live service back in November 2002. With it, gamers can chat back and forth during networked games or interact while watching movies or listening to music.

The feature was so successful, Microsoft pushed to include voice chat in every Xbox game title. Fonix said its voice command technology is included in Xbox-compatible Tom Clancy titles from Ubisoft; Delta Force-Black Hawk Down, published by Novalogic; and SWAT: Global Strike Team, published by Vivendi Universal Games.

Keeping the continuity with Fonix is one of several steps Microsoft is taking to make sure Xbox 360 is backward-compatible with its predecessor.

Microsoft has yet to publish prices or release dates for its Xbox 360. Various reports suggest the console will be globally released in November and competitively priced to match its current $299 price tag.

When it debuts, Microsoft said its Xbox 360 will have a 20GB hard drive, a custom-built IBM PowerPC-based CPU, high-definition game support and a 500MHz ATI graphics processor.