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IBM Unveils New Speech Tool

IBM Friday rolled out the ViaVoice Online Companion, a new tool that enables Internet users to talk in chat rooms and dictate e-mails.

The product is the companion to IBM's ViaVoice 98, which lets users perform keyboard and mouse functions through speech. ViaVoice users can dictate directly into PC applications, and issue voice commands to computers. In addition, ViaVoice also has text-to-speech capabilities that enable PCs to read back e-mail and other documents to users.

The new Companion's Chatter's Jargon Topic provides users with the ability to insert common abbreviations, acronyms and emoticons during online chat sessions.

"Our customers told us they wanted to use their voice to conduct more Internet-related activities," says Krishna Nathan, IBM's director of consumer voice systems.

"IBM is responding by providing an innovative, speech-enabled Internet solution that not only lets customers use their voice to chat, but control the experience with spoken commands."

ViaVoice Online Companion is available now and retails for $19.95. Customers purchasing ViaVoice Online Companion with any version of ViaVoice 98 (Executive, Office or Home editions)can receive a mail-in rebate for $25-$50, depending on model. ViaVoice 98 software ranges from $49.95 to $149.95.