in box
By Peter Lewis

(FORTUNE Magazine) – I was talking to a Samsung SGH-P207 VGA camera phone the other day--yes, talking to it, not through it--and in response it wrote me a note that changed the way I think about mobile phones and other small digital devices. The P207, offered by Cingular for $80 with a service contract, is the first phone to employ VoiceMode speech-to-text technology developed by VoiceSignal Technologies of Massachusetts. Voice recognition in mobile phones is not new, of course, and the fancier models even share the P207's ability to concatenate multiple commands into a unified action; for example, "Call George Dubya, office" prompts the phone to look up George in the address book, pick out his office number instead of his home number, and dial the call. But the P207 goes a step beyond that: It also takes dictation, allowing the user to speak a message that can then be sent as e-mail or a Short Message Service (SMS) text note. Telling the phone to "Send text George Dubya, office" brings up a text creation box on the phone's bright, colorful main screen, and that's where it gets interesting. Using VoiceMode, if ... you ... talk ... slowly ... comma ... the ... phone ... recognizes ... words ... and ... converts ... them ... into ... text ... period. Then it dials George and sends him the text message. Yes, you sound like a robot, but isn't it easier than trying to peck the text one letter at a time using the tap-tap-tap method? The P207 requires a simple three-minute drill in which it asks you to pronounce 122 words so it can learn your manner of speaking. After that it does a good but usually imperfect job of creating your message. To its credit, the P207 makes it fairly easy to correct the text. As phones, cameras, and other devices get smaller and more complicated, with ever smaller buttons and complex menu structures, voice recognition is the most obvious path for the user interface. The P207 told me so.