Bits & Bytes
FLIPPING OFF THE LIGHTS FROM YOUR SICKBED
The next time you wind up in a hospital bed, the sound of your voice might carry a lot more clout. Hill-Rom Co., a maker of medical and surgical products in Batesville, Ind., has developed a bed that can be controlled by a patient's voice. The device, called Enhancemate, will also control the room lights, television, and telephone.
At the heart of the system is voice-recognition technology developed by Verbex Voice Systems Inc. in Edison, N.J. The system uses digital signal-processing chips and special software created by Verbex to translate speech to computer commands. What makes this setup economically feasible is a new version of the Verbex technology that, unlike older editions that required powerful minicomputers, can be used on ordinary PCs. Verbex recently released Listen for Windows, a $695 circuit card and software package that will control Microsoft Corp.'s Windows program using voice commands.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENG