Speech-tech companies unfurl wares at Comdex

Speech technology may steal the show at Comdex this week, with products that should amaze the most high-tech weary of attendees.

Star Trek technology will come to life when ViA demonstrates its version of a universal translator, the ViA II. Similar to the wearable devices worn by United Federation of Planets members, ViA's device is partially funded by the US Navy and performs voice-to-voice translation with a wearable PC, headset, and speaker.

Although ViA's device cannot translate Klingon to Romulan, it does translate seven other languages, including Mandarin Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. Users can speak into the microphone in one language and it will come out a speaker in the second language.

ViA is using the Lernout & Hauspie speech and translation engines, and will demonstrate the technology at Lernout & Hauspie's booth.

"This solution demonstrates the value of fully distributed wearable processing," said Dave Carroll, chairman of ViA.

Wearable PC is a line of products allowing the user to select processor, storage, and display depending on the application, and starts at $2,000 for quantity purchases.

Translation will be more than wearable at the Comdex show.

GlobalTV from MultiLingual Media is an instant translation service that, for example, allows a global company to conduct an international videoconference in one language, while using closed captioning technology to translate the speaker's words into numerous other languages, including French, German, Italian and Spanish.

MultiLingual Media is using technology from Transparent Language, which will have its own announcement at Comdex. Transparent will announce the release of Enterprise Translation Server 3.0, which uses its TranscendRT machine-translation technology. The product cost starts at $17,000 and is licensed according to the number of words translated.

Speech technology as a user interface for accessing information will also be unveiled at Comdex.

Dragon Systems and Totally Voice will announce Marnee, a speech-centric personal information manager application that will not only allow users to employ a voice interface to send e-mail messages, schedule appointments, and add address-book entries, but it will also notify the user of scheduling conflicts, as well as speech-enable e-mail messages. Marnee will be available in December and will be priced at about $60.

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