Inside Report (2)

All right, so your dashboard can talk. But can it do Humphrey Bogart? Consumer products -- from typewriters to dolls -- may soon be talking back to their owners. Some American semiconductor manufacturers are gearing up to make integrated circuits that can reproduce the human voice. These "chips" listen to a prerecorded voice, "digitize" the sound into bits of electricity, and store it. The bits can be reassembled into natural sounding sentences on command.

Analysts say the most promising applications are in autos -- where warning lights could be replaced by a soothing voice saying such things as: "I'm sorry, but you're out of gas."m

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