Call centers like this one could vanish if speech technology ever achieves its promise. But the tech providers, below, face many challenges:
Product: Speech-recognition and -synthesis engines for call centers; voice verification. Challenge: This MIT offshoot led the market in 2001 but will need to expand its developer base and keep up R&D spending to keep winning customers.
Product: Speech-recognition engine for call centers. Challenge: The offspring of SRI International, Nuance lost its market lead in 2001. R&D spending has fallen--a worry, since it needs to keep honing its technology.
Product: Speech recognition for dictation and voice synthesis for call centers. Challenge: A newcomer, ScanSoft acquired its speech business from bankrupt Lernout & Hauspie in December. It needs to strengthen channels and win key accounts.