The announcement serves as more evidence that voice recognition software is slowly growing in popularity, as prices drop and the technology garners support from industry leaders like Bill Gates, who jumped on the bandwagon at last year's Comdex trade show.
The World Book 1998 Deluxe Speech Edition, featuring IBM's ViaVoice Gold speech-recognition software, processes voice commands for most mouse and keyboard functions and offers dictation and text-to-speech functions as well. The product is targeted at students and other home users.
IBM, a long-time voice recognition software developer, has been offering ViaVoice Gold as a standalone product for $70. However, analysts say that consumers have been waiting for professional or educational applications before investing in the technology. The World Book 1998 Deluxe Speech Edition is IBM's first third-party ViaVoice product, according to an IBM representative.
The extensive system requirements for ViaVoice are a potential obstacle in the consumer market. To software requires a Windows 95-based PC with a 150-MHz Pentium MMX processor, 32MB of memory, 95MB of free hard disk space, a 16-bit sound card, a CD-ROM drive, and Internet connectivity.
The World Book 1998 Deluxe Speech Edition is currently shipping to retailers, and carries an estimated retail price of $99.95.