Redmond, Washington-based Conversational Computing Corp – or Conversa, as it likes to be known, is claiming to have developed what it calls a revolutionary speech interface technology. The company’s Conversational Computing technology enables users to conduct accurate speech control for personal computers, using a natural language format, rather than use the usual slow single word commands, or embark on lengthy enrolment or training. Conversa, a privately held company established in 1994, also claims the technology is the first to offer speech control to the internet and telephony sectors. It will be embedded in two new products – Conversa Web and Conversa Messenger, for Microsoft Corp’s Internet Explorer 4.0. Conversa Messenger provides a hands-free messaging environment, that doesn’t require the user to look at it all the time, the company says it will turn a standard Windows-based multimedia PC into a virtual secretary. Conversa web enables the user to surf the internet and send electronic mail, just by talking to the machine. All of the responses apparently occur in less than half a second after the user has stopped speaking. Conversa Messenger includes a full duplex speaker phone, answering machine, a selection of audio recordings that can be attached to messages, remote email and fax supporting mail sorting and filtering, automatic email retrieval and a text-to-speech function that enables users to access information from a standard telephone line, among other things. The Conversa web offering will sell direct at $20, a beta version of which can be downloaded from http://www.conversa.com, and Conversa Messenger will be available towards the end of next month, priced at $50.
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