Speech recognition software is just at the start of an explosive period of growth and the 285% increase in third quarter revenue of Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products NV to $27.9m is an indicator of how eager the demand is for products that enable people to talks to PCs rather than typing into them. Revenue is neatly spread across the company’s activities with $7.6m coming from core speech technologies, $8m from dictation products, $7.6m from translation services and $4.7m from machine translation. For the nine months to September 30, revenue shot up by 271% to $65.5m while profits jumped from $1.2m to $11.9m. The company’s success led president and chief executive Gaston Bastiaens to conclude that the market is ready to embrace speech as an established technology. For years, Belgium has been the butt of jokes in Europe about the lack of famous people it has produced – but this company can add at least two to the list. And it also demonstrates Belgium’s strength, by virtue of its geographical position, of being a country of superb linguists. No wonder Microsoft Corp beat a path to its door and put $45m into the company – an investment which L&H say will help accelerate efforts to create next generation speech-enabled products for the Windows platform.
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