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January 13, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:51pm


By CBR Staff Writer

The Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (MCC), a pre-competitive research consortium set up in 1983 by the then chairman of Control Data Corp William Norris (CI No 2,561), has announced a three-year-initiative to work on spoken interactions with information systems. Intuitive Interfaces to Information Systems, or I3S, will provide participating companies with working access to software tools supporting spoken interaction with information systems. Control Data Corp founded the MCC consortium in partnership with most of the major US computer and semiconductor companies, bar IBM Corp, in an attempt to enable the US to narrow the gap with Japan. The Austin, Texas-based organization appointed a new chairman in 1990 and under his direction decided that it had good technology, but was not creating sufficient financial return for its members. The consortium concentrated on developing spin-off companies to gain something back from its investment in research. However, it began to feel that too much emphasis was placed on spinning off companies and not enough on underlying research, and in 1994 reverted to its original focus on collaborative research – since which time news from the MCC has still been sparce.

Human-to-human dialogue

This new initiative is said to be based around user interfaces that support the kind of natural interactions found in human-to- human dialogues. The project is being led by Alexander I. Rudnicky, formerly senior systems scientist at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science. Currently available speech-recognition software provides only a voice-triggered replacement for keystrokes and mouse clicks; moreover, such systems are difficult to build, he says. He argues that the I3S initiative will develop software tools that will enable developers to deploy state-of-the-art conversational, speech- driven human interfaces. Forming a close working relationship among university and industry researchers and I3S project personnel will dramatically reduce the time required to go from basic research findings to actual deployable products, he adds. I3S is actually the third project to be launched in the last six months, the other two being the Quest Quality Enabling Software Technologies project in July 1996 and the Object Infrastructure Project in September 1996. According to John W.McRary, MCC Chairman and chief executive, the initiatives are designed to, answer the requirements of our member companies and to keep new ideas in the pipeline.

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