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**RARE** IBM VoiceType Dictation CD-ROM Vocabulary CD IBM PC DOS

**RARE** IBM VoiceType Dictation CD-ROM Vocabulary CD IBM PC DOS

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IBM’s voice system Voice apps edge 
carves out user niche into mainstream 

By Thomas Hoffman 

If the positive market acceptance of IBM’s OS/2- 
based voice recognition systems is any indica¬ 
tion, then the company’s recent introduction of 
a Windows-based product should be equally 
appealingto doctors, lawyers and other profes¬ 
sionals accustomed to working in Microsoft 
Corp.’s graphical user interface environment. 

Last January, IBM began ship¬ 
ping an OS/2 version of its Person¬ 
al Dictation System, a PC-based 
speech recognition system capa¬ 
ble of identifying 32,000 words at 
a rate of 70 to 100 words per min¬ 
ute that costs less than $1,000. 

Earlier this month, IBM changed 
the brand name to VoiceType Dic¬ 
tation and began marketinga sim¬ 
ilarly priced Windows-based sys¬ 
tem. It also unveiled PCMCIA and 
Micro Channel Architecture cards 
that allow mobile professionals to 
use the software with their IBM PC 
Co. ThinkPad laptop computers. 

IBM’s VoiceType Dictation for 
OS/2 systems has found a solid 
niche among'doctors, lawyers and 
other professionals who are ei¬ 
ther engaged in high-volume word processing 
or cannot use a keyboard due to physical dis¬ 

High praise 

For example, David McFarland, a former Hon¬ 
eywell, Inc. product manager who retired 20 
years ago after his battle with multiple sclero¬ 
sis rendered him a quadriplegic, has been us¬ 
ing the OS/2-based system to run a computer 
bulletin board from his home in Monroe, Conn., 
since February McFarland, who 
has used a variety of speech rec¬ 
ognition systems for the past 10 
years, said IBM’s VoiceType Dicta¬ 
tion product is the best he has ever 

“For straight keyboard replace¬ 
ment, IBM’s system is light-years 
ahead — and I’m no great fan of 
IBM,” McFarland said. 

Unlike most speech recognition 
systems, which often have trouble 
understanding dialects, the IBM 
system can be trained to recognize users’ ac¬ 
cents and speaking patterns. Users must first 
train the system to understand their pronunci¬ 
ations by reading a Mark Twain short story for 
90 minutes. Each time the system is used there¬ 
after, it continues to learn how to interpret the 
user’s speech. 

The VoiceType Dictation systems boast a 
97% accuracy rate, according to Howard A. 
Fields, director of marketing at IBM’s Speech & 
Pen Products division. 

The IBM systems also rely on trigram tech¬ 
nology, which enables them to statistically pre¬ 
dict what the third word in a phrase will be 
based on user speech patterns. That helps ac¬ 
celerate the recognition of like-soundingwords 

such as “to,” “two” and “too.” 

The system has been a boon for doctors such 
as Ted Fifer, a plastic and hand surgeon in Eff¬ 
ingham, Ill., who has been using the OS/2 sys¬ 
tem since August to generate progress notes 
for surgeries he has performed. Fifer, a loyal 
OS/2 user who has no plans to migrate to Win¬ 
dows, said he plans to examine the new 
PCMCIA cards. 

“Because I go to outlying clinics to visit pa¬ 
tients, [the PCMCIA feature] would enable me 
to have a portable dictation sys¬ 
tem to do correspondence on the 
spot,” Fifer said. 

Other OS/2 users planning to re¬ 
main loyal to IBM’s 32-bit operat¬ 
ing system would like to see the 
company add other enhancements 
to their software, such as a wider 
variety of specialized vocabulary. 

For example, Dr. Paul White, a 
general surgeon at Beth Israel 
Hospital in New York who has used 
the OS/2 version since April, said 
IBM’s emergency medicine vocabulary is not 
quite in sync with many words he is accus¬ 
tomed to using. “My system is about 90% accu¬ 
rate. If I was able to delete words, [the system] 
would probably go a lot faster with fewer er¬ 
rors,” White said. He added that he was other¬ 
wise satisfied with the software. 


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