The future is here! Computers deciphering speech, cars commandeered by satellite

and miracles of miniaturization are a reality. Are you ready to take advantage

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of this technology? Voice recognition along with these other new advances in

technology are going to vastly increase the accessibility and function of

personal computers. As viable working speech recognition software reaches the

people the way we work with computers will be transformed. This hands-free

technology will allow our words per minute to be dictated by our ability to

express coherent ideas verbally, versus our typing skills. At first we may have

to tolerate some clunky or limited command interactions but as the software

evolves we can expect to see even greater accessibility for people of lesser

computer skills. For those who use computers daily, hand held computers with

voice input will increase their own ability to multitask. We'll soon be able to

walk, talk, word-process and chew gum all at once. The miniaturization of

technology is putting greater power in our grasp daily. The personal computer

will soon be off our lap and in our palm. What used to take up the space of a

desk may soon be no larger than a Walkman. This technology is bound to put a

dent in your pocketbook, however we can expect that competition in the market

will eventually lower prices. Advancements in heads up display, or HUD

technology will further integrate the computer with our everyday lives.

Developed early on for fighter pilots, the military now has a lightweight

headgear unit for the foot soldier. This marriage of information at a glance and

sustained interaction with the non-virtual world will be a breakthrough for ease

of use in the civilian domain. If you thought Walkmans were annoying, we may now

have to listen to the chatter of these people walking around with their computer

headsets. Those with the latest in guidance and navigational technology in their

automobiles will now be able to compute on the commute. As these couplings of

advancement in technology become a reality an even broader segment of the

population will have access to these tools. Whether or not these advancements

will increase a connectedness through communication amongst people or further

detachment in the first person remains to be seen. I personally am excited at

the thought of having this technology at my side in the not so distant future.

How soon will we have the voice recognition software? Three companies; Dragon

Systems, Lernout & Hawspie and IBM, are selling remarkably good software

that lets you speak into a microphone to dictate documents and control your PC.

The programmers certainly have their work cut out for them. Will we forgive them

if we dictate "Recognize Speech" and it comes out, "wreck a nice

beach"? I believe as the technology continues to be refined, voice

interfacing will become par for the course. Technology advancements have brought

us an ease of use, which with continuing development promises to draw more

people closer yet to their PC's. Fifteen years ago computers were a hobby at

best for the public at large. The early Tandy's and Commadore 64's had little

practical application and "multi-tasking" was a gleam in the BASIC

programmer's eye. With the rapid pace of advancements, one can only imagine what

the next fifteen years hold in store.