Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Dr. T. V. Raman's complete audio desktop

Have you ever tried using your Windows voice-to-text speech engine? If so I bet you got depressed as I did. I bet you went to sleep that day thinking how far we still are from those sci-fi movies showing people chatting with his home computers, normally having the voice of a hot sexy female. I bet you did.

Anyways, if the idea of having a complete voice interaction with your data fits well into your dreams, you might want to check out Emacspeak - a new technology dramatically changing how blind and visually impaired users around the world can interact with the personal computer and the Internet.

Conceived by Dr. T. V. Raman, (see picture from raman's Public Gallery on Picasa webalbums) who obtained his first guide-dog, Aster Labrador, from Guiding Eyes in January 1990 - Emacspeak is a speech interface that allows visually impaired users to interact independently and efficiently with the computer. Using "Audio formatting" - a technique pioneered by AsTeR - and full support for W3C's Aural CSS (ACSS) - Emacspeak produces rich aural presentations of electronic information. By blending different aspects of the Internet such as Web-surfing and messaging, Emacspeak speech-enables local and remote information via a consistent and well-integrated user interface.

A suite of task-oriented tools provides efficient speech-enabled access to the audio desktop and evolving semantic WWW. According to T. V. Raman, when combined with Linux running on low-cost PC hardware, Emacspeak/Linux provides a reliable, stable speech-friendly solution that opens up the Internet to visually impaired users around the world.

See the online manual, productivity tips, speech-enabled applications list and the various online resources for Emacspeak locatable through Google for additional details.

T. V. Raman is one of the most well known computer scientists who came from India. According to Wikipedia, T. V. Raman has worked on speech interaction and markup technologies in the context of the World Wide Web at Digital's Cambridge Research Lab (CRL), Adobe Systems and IBM Research and he presently works at Google Research.

His research interests are primarily auditory user interfaces and structured electronic documents. His PhD thesis entitled Audio System For Technical Readings was awarded the ACM Dissertation Award in 1994. Raman went on to apply the ideas on audio formatting introduced in AsTeR to the more general domain of computer interfaces Emacspeak. On Monday, April 12, 1999, Emacspeak became part of the Smithsonian's Permanent Research Collection on Information Technology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

Way to go Dr. Raman. I wish I was half as brave, strong and innovative as you are. I am also going to try installing your amazing system on the Linux machine I plan as version 2 of our HTPC. It's gonna take time, but I am going to give it a try.

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