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Speech Recognition. Will people use it? Will it be as good as a keyboard? IBM answers a resounding 'yes' to both questions. Research conducted by MORI found that 63 per cent of respondents would swap their keyboard for voice recognition technology, given half the chance. Surprisingly, nearly as many (60 per cent) RSI-prone touch typists would trade too. A puny 28 per cent said they'd rather keep hunting and pecking on their keyboards. The survey was prompted by the launch of IBM's Via Voice Millennium, which will be in UK shops by October. IBM says that the major improvements in this version from the 98 version, are the accuracy and ease of use. More research, from NSTL (National Software Testing Labs), which benchmarked the performance of Via Voice, found users were 57 per cent faster on average than typists, and had fewer mistakes in completed documents. The demo was rather impressive, much as I hate to admit it. While we watched, the software only got two words wrong, and commands only needed to be repeated a couple of times. Some of the things the company has done with the technology could not be demonstrated for us, because the hurricane off the coast of Florida has meant that the server there is down since the lab was evacuated. The product is available in three versions: Standard, Web and Pro, costing £39.99 and £59.99 and £119 repectively. ®

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