Coming Up Next: Voice Recognition

Talking to a computer is always easier than typing, which is why engineers have been working with such fervor on voice-recognition technology. They've made great progress. The accuracy rates of dictation programs from industry leaders--Lernout & Hauspie, Dragon Systems, Microsoft and IBM--have been improving around 10% a year for a decade now. During the next year, voice software geared to their specialized vocabularies is expected to gain a foothold in the medical and legal professions. Popular search sites like AskJeeves and TellMe Network hope to become "voice portals," letting users seek information by speaking simple phrases into the phone.

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