MacSpeech, the Mac only speech recognition company, is announcing iDictate for Mac OS X today at Macworld Expo San Francisco. MacCentral recently got the first sneak peek at the product, which extends MacSpeech’s TalkAnywhere technology to Apple’s newest operating system.
Designed as an introduction to speech as method for entering text into your Mac, iDictate is similar to MacSpeech’s iListen product, but lacks its command and control functions. iListen, which has “TalkAnywhere” technology, lets you dictate into virtually any Mac application. It translates speech to typed text and characters anywhere you would normally type. iListen is speaker dependent, meaning you have to spend some time “training” iListen to the unique cadence and timbre of your voice. However, it can handle multiple users, each with their own speech files. iListen was developed in cooperation with Philips Speech Processing, a specialist in speech recognition, natural dialogue, and language understanding technologies.
iDictate is designed to be a simpler and less expensive product. Due to ship later this spring, it will be MacSpeech’s first Mac OS X product. However, iListen should come to the next generation in the last half of the year.
iDictate, which will be available in preview versions starting soon, lets you dictate in a normal tone of voice and correct text in just about all applications. It has an active vocabulary of over 30,000 words (the background vocabulary was developed in partnership with Oxford University Press).
Multiple users can build their own speech files on the same Mac. Profiles created in iDictate can be transferred to Mac OS 9 for use with iListen.
“Our goal is to provide an entry level dictation application with a restricted command set,” Rogers said. “iDictate will let you dictate anywhere and do corrections. You can change the names of the included commands, but you can’t create new commands. For that, you need iListen.”
iDictate will be introduced simultaneously in US and UK English versions. Others languages such as German, French, Dutch, Flemish, Austrian German, North American Spanish, Spanish, and Italian are in the works.
Earlier this week
MacSpeech announced a new version of iListen and a European distributor. Rogers said that the company’s goal with iDictate and iListen is to make a simpler product than IBM’s ViaVoice.
“We don’t believe someone should have to speak into a container [ViaVoice’s SpeechPad] first, but should be able to speak directly into an application,” he said.