Voice-activated devices on the way
(IDG) -- Lernout & Hauspie and National Semiconductor plan to work together to develop information appliances that use a variety of voice technologies, the companies said.
If the two companies are successful in their development efforts, consumers will be able to carry out voice-activated computing on appliances such as automobile PCs, handheld computers, and National Semiconductor's Internet access device, WebPad. Such appliances can be made smaller when they do not require a keyboard for data input.
The two companies signed a agreement promising to bring together Lernout & Hauspie's know-how in the areas of speech recognition, speech compression, and text-to-speech technology -- which allows text to be read aloud with a human-sounding voice -- with National Semiconductor's expertise in silicon and system design and integration, according to a Lernout & Hauspie statement.
Lernout & Hauspie gave no time frame for when such devices might be market-ready, and officials at the Belgium-based company could not be immediately reached for comment.
After announcing the sale of its PC processor business to Via Technologies earlier this month, National Semiconductor is focusing its efforts on multifunction chips suitable for a variety of devices, including set-top boxes, Windows-based terminals, and handheld devices, the company said.
Last month, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company unveiled the first member of a new family of processors called Geode, which bring functions such as system logic, graphics, and MPEG video decompression together on a single chip.
As part of the agreement with Lernout & Hauspie, National Semiconductor will design future Geode processors to support speech processing technology, the company said.
Mary Lisbeth D'Amico is a Munich correspondent for the IDG News Service.
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