Bluetooth headset company Plantronics has launched a headset that allows users to dictate messages, check Facebook and Twitter updates and have emails read out to you.
The Plantronics M1100 Bluetooth headset comes with an integrated voice service called Vocalyst that offers text-to-speech functionality. The Vocalyst software is designed for creating quick notes rather than dictating entire speeches, but offers convenience because the speech-recognition software does not need to be trained to recognise the user's voice.
Plantronics' marketing director for EMEA, Stuart Bradshaw, said the combination of the Plantronics M1100 Bluetooth headset and the Vocalyst software is "extending the [Plantronics] story beyond the headset for the first time".
Using the voice-control service, users can dial in to a range of cloud-based apps. A single button on the £69 M1100 headset calls up the Vocalyst service. Weather and news information can be accessed by selecting one of several preconfigured options. Business travellers can access the software via a "geographic roaming plan" that is far cheaper than making the equivalent call through a mobile operator while abroad.
In dictation mode a WAV audio file is generated. This file can then be sent via email to any contact. Approximately 100 contacts can be stored. A Pro version of the Vocalyst service can also be used with the Plantronics headset. This costs £35 a year. Plantronics provides a year-long subscription to the standard version of the software. Subsequent use costs £25 per year.
Bradshaw likened the dictation concept to being able to jot down a last-minute addendum to something you were working on without having to return to the office to update the document. It allows you to be "more productive on the move", he said.
Vocalyst software also works with the Evernote Android, BlackBerry and iOS app. Evernote offers secure notetaking and cloud-based clipboard features. The Vocalyst software comes in US and UK English, French, Spanish and German versions.