Christopher J. Savoie, 28
Many talented people are tackling the problem of developing “natural-language interfaces,” to allow us to speak directly to our computers. Bicultural innovator Christopher Savoie, co-founder of Dejima, is one to watch. Currently, natural-language interfaces allow people to speak to machines using preset commands, as one might address a trained animal. Savoie, with colleague Bahrat Hodjat, co-invented natural-language
interface software that will allow people to talk to machines more or less as they talk to people, with intuitive, everyday language. This technology learns from experience, and can therefore eventually resolve the conversational ambiguities that are common in speech.This combination of qualities has sparked interest from the private sector; Dejima has deals with a European telecommunications service provider as well as with a Japanese automaker.
Such software might catch on first in Asia because of the problems inherent in keyboarding Chinese, Japanese and Korean. If so, Savoie will be well positioned to take advantage of the trend. He is fluent in Japanese (as well as French, Spanish and Lithuanian) and has spent a third of his life in Japan.
Indeed, his two previous startups, Atmark and Webula, are Japanese companies; they do Web integration, the act of putting together the components and services necessary for a company to do business on the World Wide Web. Dejima CEO Madeline Duva characterizes Savoie as “a visionary, an inventor and a builder.”