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Linux-Based Voice Recognition
By Janine M Lodato

Let's look at Linux-based voice recognition software from the perspective of China. It would behoove Linux computer makers anyway to begin manufacturing their computers in China, because China offers a low-cost method of manufacturing and provides them with a large market for their hardware which can also be exported to other important markets around the world.

Linux computers have the capacity to accommodate voice recognition systems, such as IBM ViaVoice. This is especially advantageous to Chinese speakers because both Mandarin and Cantonese are very complex in the written form, so documents could be more easily produced through voice recognition software running on a Linux platform. Using a keyboard is next to impossible for Chinese languages because so many characters are involved in typing a document.

Other languages will also benefit from using voice recognition software for purposes of speed. Hands-busy, eyes-busy professionals can benefit greatly from voice recognition so they don't have to use a mouse and keyboard to document their findings. Voice-activated, easily-used telephone systems will benefit all walks of life. Anyone driving a car will find voice recognition a much more effective way of manipulating a vehicle and communicating from the vehicle.

The health-care market alone may justify the Linux based voice recognition project. Health-care services are the largest expense of the Group of Ten nations, and it is the fastest growing sector as well. Health-care workers would benefit from using their voices to document describing the treatments of patients. Voice recognition allows them a hands-free environment in which to analyze, treat and write about particular cases easily and quickly.

Electronically connected medical devices via wireless LAN can benefit:

In this life sciences field, the simplicity, reliability and low cost of Linux for servers, tablets, embedded devices and desktops is paramount. Only about 10% of the documents in the health-care field in the USA are produced electronically due to the cumbersome and unreliable nature of the Windows environment. 30% of the cost of health-care is a direct result of manual creation of the documents and many of the malpractice cases are also due to the imprecision of transcriptions of manually scribbled medical records and directives, as anybody who looks at a prescription can attest.

Obviously, the market for these new technologies exists. What remains is for a hungry company with aggressive sales people to tap into that market. Once those sales people get the technology distributed, the needs of many will be met and a new mass market will open up that Microsoft isn't filling: assistive technology (AT). Actually, the field already exists but needs to be expanded to include both physically disabled and functionally disabled.

Yes, voice recognition offers great promise for the future. However, it isn't perfect and needs to be improved. One improvement could use lip reading to bolster its accuracy. Still another is multi-tonal voice input. Another is directional microphones. Every generation of voice recognition software will improve as the hardware for Linux gets bigger and stronger.



Copyright © 2003, Janine M Lodato. Copying license http://www.linuxgazette.net/copying.html
Published in Issue 87 of Linux Gazette, February 2003

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