Tech Industry

Speech recognition gets cheaper

A less-expensive version of speech recognition software from Dragon Systems is on the way to retail shelves.

A less-expensive version of speech recognition software from Dragon Systems is on the way to retail shelves. If it catches on, more consumers and small businesses will talk back to their computers.

Dragon Systems is now offering its NaturallySpeaking software in a new "Preferred Edition" that contains most of the features found in its Deluxe edition, but costs significantly less--$229, compared to $695 for the Deluxe product.

Instead of typing commands, Dragon's speech recognition software lets users dictate and edit their documents to Microsoft Word and also control the location of the mouse pointer. The software lets users speak to the microphone in their normal voices, instead of the accentuated pausing between words required by older software, the company says.

Other features include the ability to tell the computer to "select" phrases and words for editing and the ability to move the cursor to any point on the screen and click with MouseGrid technology, the company says.

Dragon isn't the only company working on bringing speech recognition to a wider market. Microsoft is planning on integrating the basic technology into Windows NT, the high-end operating system currently favored more by corporate users. Eventually the company expects every PC will have linguistic and speech recognition built in because it makes computers easier to interact with.

The Dragon NaturallySpeaking Preferred Edition requires a minimum of a 133-MHz Pentium processor and 32MB of memory for Windows 95 or 48MB RAM for Windows NT. The product will be available through major retail outlets.