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This paper describes a broad range of opportunities for military and government applications of human-machine communication by voice and discusses issues to be addressed in bringing the technology into real applications. The paper draws on many visits and contacts by the author with personnel at a variety of current and potential user organizations in the United States. The paper focuses on opportunities and on what is needed to develop real applications, because, despite the many opportunities that were identified and the high user interest, the military and government organizations contacted were generally not using human-machine communication by voice in operational systems (exceptions included an application in air traffic controller training and voice entry of zip codes by the U.S. Postal Service). Furthermore, the visits and discussions clearly identified a number of applications that today's state-of-the-art technology could support, as well as other applications that require major research advances.
Background for this paper is provided by a number of previous assessments of military applications of speech technology (Beek et al., 1977; Cupples and Beek, 1990; Flanagan et al., 1984; Makhoul et al., 1989; Proceedings of the NATO AGARD Lecture Series, 1990; Woodard and Cupples, 1983; Weinstein, 1991), including prior National Research Council studies (Flanagan et al., 1984; Makhoul et al, 1989) and studies conducted in association with the NATO RSG10 Speech Research Study Group (Beek et al., 1977; Cupples and Beek, 1990; Proceedings of the NATO AGARD Lecture Series, 1990; Weinstein, 1991). Those prior studies provide reviews of the state of the art at the time, and each outlines a number of programs in which prototype speech recognition systems were tested in application environments, including fighter aircraft, helicopters, and ship-based command centers. These efforts, as described in the references but not detailed further here, generally yielded promising technical results but have not yet been followed by operational applications. This paper focuses on users and applications in the United States, but the general trends and conclusions could apply elsewhere as well.
This paper is organized to combine reports on the military and government visits and contacts with descriptions of target applications most closely related to each organization. However, it is important to note that many of the applications pertain to a number of user organizations, as well as having dual use in the civilian and commercial areas. (Other papers in this volume describe applications of speech technology in general consumer products, telecom-