close this bookVolume 2: No. 17
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The email market in Fortune 2000 companies may triple in four years. The number of users is growing by 32%/year, according to the Electronic Mail Association (Arlington, VA). [Ellis Booker, CW, 3/16.] Any technology that improves email handling is likely to be profitable.

NIST has chosen the ElGamal algorithm for digital signatures, despite de facto industry standardization on a technique from RSA Data Security, Inc. (Redwood City, CA). Critics have been working to reverse the decision, esp. the Information Technology Assoc. of America. Bellcore even says that it has found a trapdoor in NIST's method, and there are fears that the National Security Agency is pressuring NIST to make sure that a trapdoor exists. [Brian Robinson, EE Times, 3/16.] Once this is settled, we can get on with developing email financial transfers. There have also been recent reports of forged email -- most likely as pranks, but not always on April Fool's Day.

Andy Hopper's Olivetti Research Laboratory (Cambridge, England), funded by Ing. C. Olivetti & Co. (Italy) and DEC, is exploring some of the same ideas as Mark Weiser's group at Xerox PARC. Olivetti Research has an infrared-based Active Badge that tracks individuals, and is working on adaptive physical and computer environments. One possibility is personal push-button phone codes that follow you from phone to phone. Several multimedia workstation applications have been prototyped, including video mail and "videophone" monitoring and conversations. Speech recognition may be next. The research center staff (of about 20?) are mainly post-graduates, many from Roger Needham's Cambridge University Computer Laboratory. [Andy Hopper, CW, 4/20.]

Voice Information Associates (Lexington, MA) estimates that voice recognition will be a $1B market by the end of the decade. (It's currently about $150M.) Speech-to-text, telephone applications, and voice verification are poised for 50%/year growth. Already, doctors at Holy Name's emergency room say that a $27K intelligent chart-recording system from Kurzweil Applied Intelligence Inc. (Waltham, MA) has paid for itself in six months. AT&T will soon use speech recognition for operator-assisted and collect calls, allowing it to close 31 operator centers and replace thousands of workers. [John J. Keller, WSJ, 4/7.] Voice recognition may replace up to 6K of AT&T's 18K long-distance operators by 1994. [Sally Cahur, Spectrum, 4/92.]

Siemens, CMU, ATR, and UKarlsruhe have started a project in real-time continuous speech translation. Siemens will provide acoustic recognition and linguistic analysis of German. Its prototype recognizes words in a half second with 99% accuracy. [Jannis Moutafis, EE Times, 3/16.]

A speaker-dependent, real-time speech translator has been demonstrated by AT&T Bell Labs and Telefonica de Espana. Their VEST system uses 127 digital signal processors to recognize 450 words in English or Spanish, replying in synthetic speech in less than a second. The demo application concerns banking services such as currency conversion. NEC Corp. has previously demoed a Japanese/English system with a very limited vocabulary. [WSJ, 4/17.]

Globalink Marketing, Inc. (Austin, TX) is selling machine translation software for 386 PCs. It can translate English to and from Spanish, French, German, or Russian at 300 words per minute. Special dictionaries cover business and finance, mining and petroleum, computer, and legal terms. (800) 324-2150 or (512) 338-2150. [Maher Saba (saba@cs.utexas.edu), 3/30.]

Go Corp. has released its PenPoint operating system. It has an improved GoWrite handwriting-recognition engine, trained on more than 700K handwriting and gesture samples. 25 hardware and 22 software firms are creating applications, and IBM has announced a Pen Developer Assistance Program. [James Daly, CW, 4/20.]

Go Corp. will distribute the CalliGrapher cursive recognition software from Russian-American company ParaGraph International, and will incorporate the technology in its pen-based computers. [CW, 4/13.] Scriptel Corp. will also work with ParaGraph on cursive handwriting technologies. [CW, 4/20.]

The IRS is beginning an $8B 10-year upgrade, including 20M new lines of code in 60 major projects. CIO Henry H. Philcox says that one bottleneck is document scanning. Current accuracy is 90% for type and 60% on hand-printed figures, but neural- network techniques are likely to improve on that. [Gary H. Anthes, CW, 4/13.]

Objective Software Inc. (Palo Alto, CA) says it will soon release its first software, a GUI metaphor product for personal productivity. It closed a $5.7M round of financing in January, which will let it expand from 23 people to 50. Richard Melmon, the president, says it will break the stodginess of today's PC industry. [Mary Madison, Palo Alto Times, 3/24.]

The Software Publishers Association (SPA) Excellence in Software Awards for 1991 personal computer software introductions have been given to Quicken 5.0, Mac System 7.0, QuickTime, ObjectVision 2.0, Borland C++, Applications Frameworks 3.0, and Visual Basic 1.0. Education/entertainment winners are SimAnt, Sid Meier's Civilization, Kid Pix, Lemmings, Martian Memorandum, Links Championship Courses, Where in America's Past is Carmen Sandiego?, Bank Street Writer, Interactive NOVA: The Miracle of Life, Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, and The Geometer's Sketchpad. [Business Wire, 3/20. agentsee.]

Sid Meier's Civilization, from MicroProse Software (Hunt Valley, MD), won The Critic's Choice Award for Best Consumer Product, Best Strategy Program, and Best Entertainment Program. (Last year, Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon won Best Strategy Game.) Civilization allows a player to be the guiding spirit of a civilization. You control the destiny of your civilization from the founding of its first cities through to the space age. You direct scientific developments, economic growth, social and industrial reform, and military might to outwit competing civilizations led by such figures as Napoleon, Genghis Kahn, and Julius Caesar. [Newswire, 3/24. agentsee.] Sid Meier is a co-founder of MicroProse, and developer of "real" simulations like F-15 Strike Eagle.

-- Ken