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March 10, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:50pm

SPEECH ACTIVATED PHONECARDS HIT UK

By CBR Staff Writer

1997 has been hailed as being finally the year of Automated Speech Recognition success, though that will more likely be through adding value to telephony and touchtone applications than through the speak to your computer like in Star Trek cliche (CI 3048). Two signs that this may actually be coming true are the recent coup by SRI-spin off Nuance Communications in winning a hefty $7.5m second round venture finance last month, and the announcement that UK consumers will as of next month be able to purchase voice activated pre-paid telephone cards. Though available only to credit card purchasers at first, the card may then be sold in retail outlets, says the company, the UK subsidiary of CardCall Holdings (which merged with Fairfield, Virginia based DCI last month). Though the company can’t claim this is the first ever voice activated phone card – Sprint has been selling one since 1994 – the significance of the deal is that speech recognition products have been much slower to pick up in Europe, where touchtone is basically unknown and thus where speech recognition/telephony products may have a future. The cards allow the user to either enter a personal identification number via the telephone keypad or simply state their name for user verification, and they can store up to 50 phone numbers which can be voice activated and speed-dialed.

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