MyIvan - Version 2.0.90
MyIvan Version 2.0.90
By One Voice Technologies
6333Greenwich Dr. Suite 240
San Diego, CA 92122
Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - April 29, 2001
MyIvan is an innovative, interactive, voice controlled web navigator. It provides you with the opportunity to surf the net while keeping your hands free to pursue other tasks. Ivan, which stands for Intelligent Voice Animated Navigator, is a little anthropomorphic creature. His body is a blue globe, which looks like the Earth. He has animated eyes and mouth, stringy arms, and sneakered feet - which is good because he spends a lot of time running around fetching web pages.
So what does MyIvan do?
MyIvan is a web browser partnered with the Ivan avatar. Using a headset, you tell Ivan where you want to go on the Internet, and Ivan takes you. For example, if you wanted to go to the Large Print Reviews website, all you have to do is tell Ivan, "Go to Large Print Reviews." He will then do a quick search for the website. Once he finds the site, he will redirect the browser to that website. If his search returns several possible sites, he shows you his search results and lets you decide which site you want to go to. You can also tell Ivan to include a site in your bookmarks or in your favorites list. He also gives you the option of giving that site a 'shortcut' name so that you can give Ivan simple directions to places you visit regularly.
The MyIvan program makes use of a new technology called Intelligent Voice Interactive Technology (IVIT), which allows you to talk normally and to even ask questions when interacting with Ivan. For example if you ask Ivan what the weather is like in your hometown, he will try to find a site that can answer your question. Once you are on a page, you can verbally instruct Ivan to go to any of the links contained on that page. Be forewarned. Ivan is also a talkative fellow. He greets you by name, asks questions when he is not sure about where you want to go, and he will tell you things, such as if your microphone is on or off.
MyIvan comes with a CD containing the program and a hands-free headset that has a noise cancelling microphone attached. This headset fits comfortably over the head and has very good sound quality. I found that installing the program was very easy. I simply inserted the CD and it installed itself with minimal activity on my part. Once installed, the Ivan avatar appeared and guided me through a quick tutorial that explained all the basic functions of the program, while simultaneously teaching Ivan to recognize my voice.
I found Ivan to be very intuitive and a quick study. I spoke to Ivan in a normal manner, and he seemed to quickly learn to understand my voice and my commands. After the training session was completed, Ivan occasionally had trouble understanding me or was unsure about how to pronounce a given word. On these occasions, Ivan stopped and asked me if he had understood me correctly and I was given the opportunity to correct his mistakes so that he would not make the same mistake twice. At first it was a little disconcerting to find myself conversing with my browser, but it was also a bit fun.
The program is self-contained, and includes all the software programs that you need to run MyIvan. One requirement is that you need to have Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher installed on your computer in order for the MyIvan installation program to run. You actually need a newer version of IE to run MyIvan, but a lower version will be automatically updated to the required version when you run the MyIvan installation program. Also, to use MyIvan you need to have a microphone, a microphone input jack, and a Sound Blaster compatible sound card. At this time, MyIvan will only run on computers using the Windows operating system. To run MyIvan you need to be using Windows 95 OSR 2.1 or higher, Windows 98, Windows ME, or Windows NT 4.0. MyIvan does not currently work with Windows 2000. You also need a Pentium 300 MHz or larger processor, at least 64mb of ram, and 510 Mb of disk space.
In its present incarnation, MyIvan is only a web navigator. However, One Voice, the company that created Ivan, is working to expand Ivan's capabilities to handle text-to-speech and dictation tasks. Once this is accomplished, MyIvan will become a very useful tool for the visually impaired community.
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