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Voice software works with Word

A Belgian company introduces two voice-activated word processors, latching onto the growing popularity of voice recognition.

A Belgian company today introduced two voice-activated word processing applications, hoping to latch onto the growing popularity of voice recognition software.

The appearance of Lernout and Hauspie's Voice Xpress and Voice Xpress Plus demonstrates that voice recognition is becoming more reliable even as prices are dropping. However, hefty system requirements will likely prevent the technology from reaching a mass audience, at least for the time being.

With Voice Express, users can create, format, and edit documents using their natural speaking patterns, speaking up to 140 words per minute. To run the application, users must have at least a 166-MHz Pentium MMX, 40MB of memory (Voice Xpress Plus requires an additional 8MB), 130MB of hard drive space, and a 16-bit sound card.

Voice Xpress, which includes a noise-canceling microphone, is $49.99. Voice Xpress Plus, which allows users to dictate and edit directly into Microsoft Word, has an estimated retail price of $99.95.

Both versions support Microsoft's Speech application programming interface.

Two other products with voice recognition features that are due this summer, General Magic's Serenegeti virtual assistant and Microsoft's Auto PC, will probably draw more interest to the burgeoning technology.