Voice recognition specialist Lernout & Hauspie (L&H) opened the Flanders Language Valley project last week.
Scheduled for completion before the end of the year, the FLV, near Ypres in Belgium, will allow companies which specialise in speech and language technology to occupy offices in close proximity to each other and take advantage of shared resources to accelerate product development.
Companies that have initially signed up to occupy offices in the campus include L&H itself, Voxtron, Dictation Consortium, NDC Voice, Keyware Technologies, Excalibur and Speech Systems.
The FLV will provide resident companies with a variety of services which will be run by a non-profit venture. These include business development and financial services, educational facilities, human resources co-ordination.
The high profile launch featured several prominent speakers including senior local politicians and Bernard Vergnes, president of Microsoft Europe.
Microsoft holds an 8.5% stake in L&H.
Asked if Microsoft's involvement in the FLV meant that Windows 98 or perhaps NT 5.0 would feature voice control, Vergnes told PC Week: "In order for it to be feasible the technology needs to evolve a bit and processing power needs to increase. If you were optimistic you could say this might happen in the next three to five years."
An other area of development which will benefit greatly from the FLV is language translation technology.
Jo Lernout, co-founder of L&H, speculated that "Babelfish" type products which could translate the spoken word into a wide variety of languages were only a few years away from mass production.
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