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Talking technology

Toshiba launches Bluetooth headset that lets you speak to your gadgets

Japanese electronics giant, Toshiba is planning to offer Japanese customers a revolutionary headset that will allow them to control devices like PCs, handhelds and household appliances using voice commands.

The company says the Bluetooth headset will have two functions: it will play audio files at CD quality, and the built-in speech recognition technology will covert voice commands into data instructions to create a network between the person using it and the devices they wish to control.

Data is sent to devices using wireless Bluetooth communication technology. The idea is that users living in a wirelessly networked home could controls tasks like turning on their washing machine just by saying 'switch on' or could turn up the heating by saying 'hotter' to thermostat.

Dictation could also be wireless, as users simply speak into the headset and then the voice data is transmitted to a PC via Bluetooth, which will convert the speech into text using voice recognition software. Toshiba sees this function as being useful to professionals like doctors, who could simply dictate a diagnosis into the headset and it would be automatically typed into the patient's notes.

Audio files can be sent from a Bluetooth-enabled PC or mobile audio device and played back on the headset at CD quality.

The headset weighs just 100g, so it shouldn't be too uncomfortable to wear. It is powered by a lithium-ion battery with a claimed life of five hours. A microphone, processor, Bluetooth module, antenna and memory chip are built in, but full specifications and pricing details won't be available until it launches in Japan sometime in the next couple of months.

As for the UK launch, this could be as much as two years away as we are so much further behind Japan in terms of adoption of home networking.


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