Microsoft Shows MiPad Handheld Prototype

MIAMI (03/21/2000) - Microsoft Corp. showed here today the prototype of a handheld device able to recognize voice commands and take dictation from users and whose purpose is partly to eliminate the difficulty of entering data into these types of devices.

A Microsoft staffer gave a brief demonstration of the product today during the morning keynote address from Bill Gates, the company's chairman and chief software architect, at the software vendor's Latin America Enterprise Solutions Conference 2000 here.

The product, called MiPad, is still in the research stage of development, but the expectations Microsoft has for the device are lofty, according to information on the company's research Web site. This was the first public showing of a MiPad prototype, the Microsoft staffer said.

Without having to use a pen-type interface or a small keyboard, a user can use their voice to compose and send e-mail messages, browse the Web, access a contacts list and dictate text. The device could even double as a cellular phone, according to information on Microsoft's research Web site. Users would only need to use a pen device to point to the place on the device's screen where they want the MiPad to enter the text or carry out the command users are telling it to perform.

MiPad, 'Mi' being an acronym for multimodal interface, is being developed by Microsoft Research's Speech Technology Group unit. In appearance, the handheld device is somewhat reminiscent of Palm Inc.'s Palm Pilot PDA (personal digital assistant).

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, is at http://www.microsoft.com/. The company's research Web page can be reached at http://research.microsoft.com/.

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