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May 22, 2000

Lou Saviano: 510 739-0621

Lernout & Hauspie
Michelle Doherty: 781 203-5324 Selects Lernout & Hauspie's Text-to-Speech Technology For Its Audio Internet Product

netECHO™ Will Use L&H™ RealSpeak™ to Allow Users to Hear Web Content Over Any Phone

SAN JOSE -- (May 22, 2000) --, an audio Internet Technology Provider, today announced a licensing agreement with Lernout & Hauspie (L&H) (Nasdaq: LHSP; Easdaq: LHSP) a global leader in speech and language products, technologies and services, to integrate the award-winning L&H™ RealSpeak™ in their netECHO™ product. netECHO™ provides customers access to any Web site via any phone without a computer. Under the agreement will deploy L&H RealSpeak™ , a human sounding text-to-speech (TTS) engine, to enable users to have Web content read aloud over the phone.

In addition to having Web content read over the phone, netECHO™ will enable users to surf the entire Web and manage their Web-based e-mail, all with simple voice commands. netECHO™ also offers voice portal capabilities, giving subscribers access to information, such as stock quotes, news, weather, directions, horoscopes, etc. Requested information is read out loud without the graphics. Future versions will also feature v-commerce, and language translation capabilities.

"L&H's award-winning text-to-speech (TTS) technology will help us provide customers with a pleasant 'on-line' experience," said Dr. Emdad Khan, president and CEO of San Jose-based "Lernout & Hauspie has a proven track record in providing top-notch TTS technology, and the sound quality offered by their synthetic speech engine is incredible," he added.

"The voice technology industry is just now taking off, with several companies poised to offer voice portal services which offer access to pre-selected information, such as weather or sports scores," Khan said. "What sets netECHO™ apart is that it offers users access to any Web site, including sites written for the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)."

"The Internet provides a powerful tool for gathering information and performing daily tasks, however access is currently limited by the need to be at a computer," said Gerald Calabrese, senior vice president of worldwide sales for L&H. "With the vast amount of services and information provided on the Web, consumers are demanding a better, easier way to access content. Speech is a natural interface, and products such as netECHO™ will help mainstream consumers harness the power of the Internet."

"Demand for voice-accessible services is on the rise as consumers search for ways to get the information they need, when they need it, whether they're commuting to an important business meeting, attending a basketball game, or just hanging out at the beach," said Khan. netECHO™ is expected to appeal to mobile professionals, the visually impaired, and people without access to a computer.

Other companies are revamping business Web sites so that customers can call a designated number and, using spoken directions, get access to company information, place orders, check their account status, etc. To date, they've had to rewrite their existing pages using VXML (Voice Extensible Mark-up Language.) is developing technology which automates the process of making a Web site telephone-accessible, making it easier, faster and cheaper for businesses to provide a voice-based channel for customers. Since it reads the actual Web page, maintenance time and costs are also dramatically reduced.

netECHO™ Demonstration at AVIOS will demonstrate its new netECHO™ service at AVIOS (American Voice Input Output Society) conference May 22-24 in San Jose.

The company will launch a test of netECHO™ at the end of the month in the San Francisco Bay Area, with nationwide expansion planned later this year. Participants in the netECHO™ test will be offered the first two months of service free. The company plans to offer the service for $29.95 a month when the product is commercially available.

About develops, markets and supports an Audio Internet Browser, netECHO™ , which provides audio-based telephone access to the Internet for businesses and individuals. The company's patent-pending technology can be bundled with other products, such as traditional computer-based Internet access, or voice mail, and can be customized to meet individual business needs, such as employee access to Intranet sites. is also developing business software that automates the process of voice-enabling a company's Web site, furthering development of the "voice web." is a privately held company headquartered in San Jose, Calif., It currently has licenses to use text-to-speech technology from Lernout & Hauspie and speech recognition technology from SpeechWorks International, Inc. For more information about, visit, or call 1-408-360-7730.

L&H and RealSpeak are trademarks of Lernout &Hauspie Speech Products N.V.


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