NBC NIGHTLY NEWS, 12/30/1993 The following material is the copyrighted property of the National Broadcasting Company. It is reproduced here with their permission. It may be downloaded, transferred, printed, etc. for non-profit purposes only. ============================================================ BRIAN WILLIAMS: Have you ever sat down and had a good long talk with your computer? These days, PC's can recognize the human voice which promises to revolutionize communications in a big way. NBC's George Lewis reports tonight in part four of our series, "Almost 2001." TAPE REPORT NARRATED BY GEORGE LEWIS: (NARR) 25 YEARS AGO, THE FILM 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, PROJECTED A FUTURE WHERE COMPUTERS WOULD MAKE LIFE EASIER FOR SPACE TRAVELERS. MACHINES THAT UNDERSTOOD THE SPOKEN WORD. FAST FORWARD NOW...TO ALMOST 2001 AND COMPUTERS ARE DOING JUST THAT. EAVESDROP AT BOLT BERANEK AND NEWMAN IN BOSTON.. A LEADING COMPANY IN VOICE RECOGNITION TECHNOLOGY. HERE, COMPUTERS TRANSCRIBE THE SPOKEN WORD DICTATED IN THE BUSINESS LINGO OF THE WALL STREET JOURNAL... (SOUND OF MAN DICTATING INTO MACHINE) "THE BELL COMPANIES ARE HOPING ELECTRONIC MAIL AND VOICE MAIL WILL BECOME A MAJOR REVENUE SOURCE." (NARR) THERE ARE SOME PROJECTIONS THAT VOICE RECOGNITION TECHNOLOGY WILL BE PART OF A 25 BILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS BY THE YEAR 2001. AND CREATE 100,000 NEW JOBS. (GEORGE LEWIS ON CAMERA) "What's happening here is part of a whole trend in technology. To make it easier to use and less intimidating. Like the air conditioning in a modern office building. You don't notice it until something goes wrong." (PAUL SAFFO--INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE) "The most important technology will be the technology that's invisible." (NARR) PEOPLE HAVE BEGUN TO USE PERSONAL DIGITAL ASSISTANTS, LIKE APPLE'S NEWTON, TO MAKE MORE EFFICIENT USE OF THEIR TIME. ONE EXPERT SAYS VOICE RECOGNITION IS A PERFECT ADD-ON TO THESE DEVICES. (BOB MEISEL--VOICE RECOGNITION TECHNOLOGY EXPERT) "Where you might see speech replacing keyboards and other means of data entry, is on small portable devices where you just don't have room for a keyboard or even where it's inconvenient to do something like handwriting analysis." (SOUND--guy calling out phone numbers to telephone) (NARR) PHONE CALLS WILL BE MADE WITHOUT DIALING ANYTHING. THE FEATURE IS ALREADY ON ONE CELLULAR PHONE SYSTEM IN DALLAS. TELEVISION PROGRAMS FOR THE HEARING IMPAIRED WILL BE CAPTIONED AUTOMATICALLY. AT AMERICATECH...THE REGIONAL PHONE COMPANY HEADQUARTERED IN CHICAGO, EXECUTIVE DORSEY RULEY USES A VOICE RECOGNITION SYSTEM TO DICTATE MEMOS, READ ELECTRONIC MAIL, AND MAKE PHONE CALLS. (NATSOT---"Hello, Sherrie?") (NARR) RULEY IS A QUADRIPLEGIC AND HE SAYS THE TECHNOLOGY HAS IMPORTANT IMPLICATIONS FOR THE QUARTER MILLIONAMERICANS WHO ARE DISABLED WITH SPINAL CORD INJURIES. (DORSEY RULEY--AMERITECH STRATEGIC PLANNER) "We wanna be a link to a better life. And when we come up with applications like the voice control work station, we're probably living up to that." (NARR) AT I.B.M....THEY'VE BEEN WORKING ON VOICE RECOGNITION DEVICES THAT WILL HELP DOCTORS WRITE THEIR REPORTS MORE UNDERSTANDABLY AND LEGIBLY. (SOUND: medical jargon being spoken as it spills out on screen) (NARR) THE IDEA BEHIND THESE SYSTEMS IS TO FREE UP THE DOCTORS FROM FILLING OUT SO MANY REPORTS. ONE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CLINIC THAT JUST INSTALLED VOICE RECOGNITION ESTIMATES IT WILL SAVE 400-THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR. BACK AT BBN IN BOSTON, THEY'RE TESTING A VOICE RECOGNITION SYSTEM THAT WILL HELP AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS. (SOUND)--"U-S Air 324 fly heading two-one-zero." (NARR) COMPUTERS CAN BE PROGRAMMED TO EAVESDROP ON COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN AIR AND GROUND... AUTOMATICALLY RECOGNIZINGTHE CALL SIGNS OF EACH PLANE...AND DISPLAYING THAT INFORMATION ON THE RADAR SCREEN. THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION BEGINS INSTALLING THE EQUIPMENT IN CONTROL TOWERS IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS. INVISIBLE TECHNOLOGY THAT AIRLINE PASSENGERS WON'T NOTICE. BUT IT WILL LIGHTEN THE LOAD ON THE AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS, IT WILL MAKE FLYING SAFER AND IT AND MUCH MORE WILL BE A REALITY BY THE YEAR 2001. GEORGE LEWIS, NBC NEWS, LOS ANGELES. ===============END TAPED SPOT================= BRIAN WILLIAMS: All week long here, we've been asking our viewers who have access to the computer communications system called the Internet to send us their comments, and they sure have. We've received thousands of messages from across the U.S. and around the world and though we can't respond to every one of them, we do thank you.