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Definition: voice recognition

(1) Using a person's voice as a form of identification. See voice detection.

(2) The conversion of spoken words into computer text. Speech is first digitized and then matched against a dictionary of coded waveforms. Also called "speech recognition," the matches are converted into text as if the words were typed on the keyboard. "Speaker-dependent" systems require users to enunciate samples to train and fine tune the system. "Speaker-independent" recognition such as telephone voice response systems do not require training but generally handle only a limited vocabulary.

Three Categories
The least taxing on the electronics, "command" systems recognize several dozen words and eliminate using the mouse or keyboard. "Discrete voice" recognition systems used for dictation require a pause between each word. "Continuous voice" recognition understands natural speech without pauses and is the most process intensive. The Holy Grail of voice recognition, speaker-independent, continuous systems that handle extensive vocabularies are slowly but surely becoming mainstream. Contrast with speaker recognition.

First Handheld Speech Recognition
The first continuous dictation in a handheld device was in 2000 when Lernout & Hauspie showed off this Linux PDA prototype. It provided keyboard-free email composition. (Image courtesy of Lernout & Hauspie.)

A Big Deal in 1985
The March 5, 1985 edition of PC Magazine featured the amazing capability of an IBM PC to recognize voice input, as well as deliver text-to-speech output. (Image courtesy of PCMag.com.)