In today's computer world, the lack of typing skills is an obstacle. The old one-
A few years ago, when the envelope needed addressing and 100-words-per-
The minute Secretary went out for lunch, but now touch typing is as necessary for the survival of an executive as knowing how to program a microwave or answering machine.
But is that always the case? Probably not.
Despite the increasing number of new keyboard products-
All of this is to make data entry easier, faster, and more painful (
For people with wrist tunnel syndrome)--
The keyboard will soon be as outdated as the car running board.
This threat comes from two emerging technologies: an electronic pen that writes directly on a special computer keyboard, and complex software that converts human sounds into computer commands, typed words, and numbers.
What drives the effort to make the keyboard obsolete?
Easy to carry and fast.
After all, there is no more portable keyboard than a pen.
When the keyboard and pen are compared to the human voice, the spoken word wins.
The effort to have computer users hand-write their computer commands instead of typing them has not been successful.
There are some pensystem computers on the market, but these words are mainly reserved for painting and other things that are lessthan-Oral order.
Where the electronic pen makes the most progress is a micro-device called a personal digital assistant (PDAs). These itty-
Bitty computer (
The size of a paperback book)
It is too small to install the keyboard, so the pen device is natural.
But so far, at least, the electronic pen has not proved to be more powerful than the keyboard.
To prove this, considering the reaction of many pioneers who rushed to buy one of the first PDAs, Apple's Newton, which, among other things, was designed to take notes and store personal calendars, and use some additional hardware as a communicator--
Send and receive faxes.
But Newton is beyond its technical capabilities.
Many users end up hiding the device in their bottom drawer, because even if the screen is neatly engraved with notes like "11 points back, newton will not translate it into "racket H" or other gibberish.
Despite the calligraphy problem in the electronic pen industry, it did not give up: it is working on the theory that competition is not the fastest, but the most lasting.
And the current second crop.
Generation PDAs rely less on hand-written translation ability, more on preset menu items that users can choose by touching the pen, which is the true pen of the third generation
Power PDAs is nearby.
The upcoming new generation of PDAs will use a new approach to pen writing software.
Devices like Newton require users to "teach" computers to read personal handwriting (
The device does improve through patient user training)
, The new idea is to reverse the process: teach users how to write in a more compatible way with the computer, for example, Z will not be confused with 2 or 5 and S.
In other words, the goal is to make the software computer --
Friendly not user-friendly.
The tool to achieve this is a software product called graffiti developed by Palm Computing, Inc.
A small company in Los Altos, California
In the coming year, the software will be installed in future PDAs models such as Sony's Magic Link and Motorola's special envoy Hewlett-
HP's long-line and Tandy and Casio telescopic lenses.
To make the information written easier to read, many of the alphabet is redesigned to eliminate ambiguity.
For example, the letter A is written without A crossbar, and the letter T looks like A inverted L.
It takes some practice to master the new script, but once this barrier is crossed, the program works fine.
In a demo, we rushed to write a few words according to the new script rules, and the program quickly translated the message without typing errors.
There are disadvantages: the graffiti system that requires block printing is not as fast as the cursive writing, and it usually does not work well unless the left-hand side is extra careful.
In addition, sloppy painting can confuse the program and produce typos.
Then it is necessary to learn the special alphabet, and while it is easier to learn than touch typing, it is only another inconvenience and obstacle to its widespread adoption.
Whether the pen will be widely accepted for desktop or even portable computers is questionable, as size limits are not as important as PDAs for these computers.
Obviously, this pen will become more popular in the types of handheld devices that accountants use for inventory control, as well as in some audit tasks where portable writing tools are also important in addition to pads and pencils
Graffiti is not the alpha and omega of electronic pen technology.
At best, this is an intermediate solution.
While it is unlikely that the electronic pen will completely replace the keyboard, it will certainly make us less dependent on it.
For some certified public accountants, it is a good thing to use a computer to dictate.
Today, there are several products on the market that can be dictated, even better than many people. (
For more information, see the sidebar on page 65. )
Although many computer experts predict that handwriting recognition will be the first technology to make a fierce competition for keyboards, voice
The development of identification technology seems to be more rapid.
However, despite the progress of the technology, users are slow to adopt it.
Price is an obstacle;
The other is the lack of quality.
Until the nearest voice
The recognition software is very expensive, very slow and not particularly accurate. Older, low-
The vocabulary of budget products is very limited (
Below 2,000 words)
Users have to hesitate to say. . . with . . . short . . . pauses . . . between . . . every . . . word.
In the past two years, technology has developed rapidly, and it is no longer a prerequisite for not speaking.
Although the user still needs to "train" the program to recognize their voice ---
It takes a few days to practice-
Most of the leading products allow users to speak at a fairly normal speed, and the program maintains speed.
Speech recognition requires a powerful computer: usually a 486, random access memo with at least 16 megabytes, and of course a special sound card circuit. Errors--
Mainly caused by ambiguity such as sound. alike words (to, too, two)--
But most of the time, these programs work.
The price barrier is rapidly disappearing. In mid-
1994 leader in Dragon Systems
The price of a dragon from Newton, Massachusetts was sharply lowered.
When the plan was launched in 1990, it came with a price tag of $9,000).
The price cut has also led to sharp price cuts by its two biggest competitors, international commercial machines and Kurzweil application intelligence.
Today, a complete voice recognition system with sound cards and microphones costs between $500 and $3,000.
In addition, many systems are no longer voice-independent, meaning they are not limited to the sound of a master.
A voice program, Microsoft's voice system, although not powerful enough for dictation, can do a lot of chores, including effectively replacing the mouse when Windows operates.
One of its modules, voice pilot, responds to voice commands to activate applications, call files, and even command the computer to cut, paste, and print.
If you don't want the computer to eavesdrop, you can order it to "sleep" and when you issue the "wake up" command it will wake up later.
$59 products can also be used to record oral notes and can be attached to files--
So a colleague, his computer also has a sound card, and you can hear your voice with the right software.
For CPAs, the proofreading of the system is a particularly valuable module.
Once aroused, it can say the highlighted number or the range of selected words in the file.
It can even recite numbers when entering numbers. While voice-
Activation Software has been slow to win the hearts of computer users, becoming the darling of mobile phone users.
Many fixed and mobile phones now have voice systems installed so that users can call Office numbers by simply saying "Call Office.
The most attractive prospect is the combination of PDAs and speech recognition.
Entering data in a PDA is as simple as speaking in a recorder ---
Only now will the data be digitized and formatted like a keyboardentered.
With such a system, a spreadsheet can be created and faxed, addressed, and transmitted-
All of this comes with voice commands when a user takes a taxi.
Related articles: Summary of execution * electronic pen and voice-
The activated software begins to challenge the computer keyboard as a way to enter data into the computer.
* Pen technology is still rough today, but a new system using simplified, non-fuzzy letters and numbers is being introduced. * VOICE-
Even faster than the electronic pen, the activated software is also developing rapidly.
The program converts spoken language into commands and types text.
The price of this software has dropped sharply in recent months, and the latest program transcribe these words fairly accurately and quickly.
* A voice program replaces the mouse, allowing the user to activate any command in the menu.
It can even work like a proofreader. -
Say back the numbers entered into the spreadsheet. * IN THE NOT-TOO-
In the distant future, the data will be entered into the micro personal digital assistant, allowing users to create spreadsheets, dictate letters, and send faxes, all with voice commands-
When taking a taxi
Related articles: more sources of information about voice information
Activation System: * Articulate systems 600 woben, 4500 mings Park Suite 01801 (617)935-
5656 * Dragon Systems Co. , Ltd.
320 Newton Street, Nevada, 02160, Massachusetts (617)965-
5200 * International Business Machine 1507 LBJ highway Dallas Texas 75234 (800)TALK2ME (825-5263)
* Kurzweil application intelligence 411 Waltham, voltham Road, Waverley Oaks, 02154, Massachusetts (800)380-
Microsoft 1234 *
98052 Microsoft Road, Redmond, Washington (800)426-
9400 * Voice system 2945 center green court South Boulder, Colorado 80301 (303)938-1110.
Zarowin is a senior editor of The Wall Street Journal. Mr.
Zarowin is an employee of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and his views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
The formal position is determined through a certain special committee procedure, due process and deliberation.