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(Nikkei BP Group)

(No.1 High-Tech News Site in Japanese)

  • IBM Japan’s Voice Recognition Enlivens Animated Characters
  • February 18, 1999 (TOKYO) — IBM Japan Ltd. introduced desktop accessory software that enables an animated character on a display to respond to a user’s voice.
    The new application adopted the company’s voice recognition technology used in the Japanese version of ViaVoice 98, IBM’s voice recognition software.

    The application, called ViaVoice Atom, featuring Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atom) as its character.

    Astro Boy is designed to respond to about 80 patterns of user questions and conversations.

    When the user, for example, asks Astro Boy, “Atom, how is Astro Girl (Uran) doing?” Astro Boy bashfully replies, “Too well for me to catch up with.” To the words, “Atom, show your one-million horsepower!” Astro Boy responds by flying across the display.

    Users also can enjoy chatting with Astro Boy by some forms of questions. When the user asks Astro Boy, “Do you like someone?” Astro Boy answers, “I like Dr. Elefun (Dr. Ochanomizu),” continuing with a question, “Do you like someone, too?” Depending on the user’s reply to this question, Astro Boy shows different reactions.

    ViaVoice Atom also helps users start up applications by voice. A user can start an application by giving Astro Boy a command, for example, “Atom, run Word!” to which Astro Boy answers, “OK!” This voice start-up is available for application software such as Ichitaro word processing, Word, Excel and Netscape Navigator.

    In addition to voice, Astro Boy reacts to the moves of the cursor, flying to and stopping on the location where the cursor rests.

    ViaVoice Atom requires a personal computer with Windows 98, 95 or NT 4.0 installed, a 100MHz Pentium processor or higher, main memory of more than 32MB, a hard disk drive storing more than 20MB, a sound source compatible with Sound Blaster 16, a microphone and a display capable of exhibiting more than 256 colors.

    ViaVoice Atom sells for 3,800 yen (US$33).

    Related story: IBM Japan, Olympus, Justsystem Create Voice Products

    (BizTech News Dept.)

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