At nearly 20 years old, Nuance ( is an old pro in combining speech with the PC. The company came to fame thanks to its Dragon speech-to-text software for the desktop, which let users transcribe documents. (Also, it's essentially an open secret that Nuance technology is a key part of )Apple's (Fortune 500) Siri virtual assistant.) ,
Now, the 12th iteration of Dragon can launch applications, open files, minimize windows, control your mouse, and more. But executives say they have bigger plans in store.
"We'll eventually have truly intelligent systems, which understand bigger tasks," says Nuance CTO Vlad Sejnoha. "Imagine being able to tell your laptop or car, 'How about drinks with Rebecca and Mark at 7 p.m. tomorrow?' and it can check your schedule and make a reservation."
That won't happen anytime soon, but in the meantime, Nuance is working on much more than just Dragon for desktops. There's Dragon TV; Dragon Mobile Assistant; Nina, a virtual assistant for mobile customer service apps; Dragon Drive for autos; and Swype, the gesture-based text entry startup Nuance bought in 2011.
IBM forecasts that in five years, computers will gain the five senses and experience the world as humans do.