Speech and literacy entrepreneur Dr Peter Kelway has appealed to BATA members for help in reviving old-style ‘discrete’ voice recognition systems.

The software, which includes older versions of Dragon Dictate, was designed to recognise speech with a small pause between each word. It has been superseded by continuous speech systems such as Dragon NaturallySpeaking.

However, Dr Kelway, a director of Words Worldwide, believes there could be a demand for discrete recognition software, which is simpler to use for those with learning difficulties and better at recognising hard to understand speech because of its ability to alight on a word from a few letters.

The option to restrict the vocabulary of discrete recognition programs also makes them suitable to use in conjunction with switch controllers.

“Discrete recognition products still exist, mostly obsolete but nevertheless still potentially of use,” said Dr Kelway. “These could be made available commercially at low cost, given the will and initiative of supporters of this concept.

“Old discrete systems were very effective but the technology tended to die out because they did not support more recent Microsoft operating systems.”

He envisages using modern machines to emulate outdated operating systems and in that way allow the software to be used once more.

Dr Kelway is talking to Scope, the cerebral palsy charity, and Nuance, the company that owns Dragon NaturallySpeaking, to gauge whether there are enough potential users to make the project viable and to iron out any technical and commercial obstacles.

If you would like to discuss this project with Dr Kelway his contact details are as follows: Words Worldwide Limited, Charlton House, Wark, Hexham, Northumberland, NE48 3LG. Telephone: 01434-230038, mobile: 07980-177390, email: psk2@btinternet.com.

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