Ray Kurzweil has been honored for creating the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech-recognition system in 1987. It was done under his Kurzweil Applied Intelligence (KAI) company, founded in 1982. Today, descendants of Kurzweil’s advances in speech recognition are used to create written documents for lawyers, doctors, and other professionals and in automated phone response systems. KAI is now part of Nuance. Kurzweil also has created several other companies:
- Financial Accelerating Transactions–Kurzweil Adaptive Technologies (FAT KAT) applies pattern recognition technology to stock market picking, in essence creating a computerized financial analyst.
- KurzweilCyberArt.com provides software like AARON and Ray Kurzweil’s Cybernetic Poet to assist with the artistic process.
- KurzweilAI.net is a leading Web resource for advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence. The site has hundreds of thousands of readers
- Kurzweil Educational Systems (KES), which develops reading systems for the blind and dyslexic, is now part of Cambium Learning. KES currently is distributing Kurzweil’s new portable reader.
KES developed the Kurzweil 1000, a print-to-speech reading system for the blind that won the 1998 Stevie Wonder Vision Award for Product of the Year. With the $150,000 award, placed in the Kurzweil Foundation, the inventor began giving scholarships to blind students. This July, 30 blind college students received cash scholarships, the Kurzweil National Federation of the Blind (pocket) Reader, and the desk-based Kurzweil 1000 reader.
Kurzweil also is supporting scientists like Rob Freitas with research grants for nanotechnology—one of the areas where he expects breakthroughs that will eliminate our dependence on foreign oil for energy.