STAR Trek and Knight Rider may once have seen far fetched but now a technology giant, based in Marlow, says computers which listen to and understand your commands are here and will soon be part of everyday life.

Nuance, which with 150 staff at its Pound Lane offices, is one of the town's biggest employers is behind some of the gadgets and gizmos you may already be using.

If you use an Apple i-phone and use a speech recognition application, the chances are that it is Nuance technology.

Although the company is not allowed to be specific, it does licence its software to huge companies such as Apple.

Neil Grant, Sales Director for the UK and Ireland, admitted most would be unaware of the name Nuance.

Speaking at the Marlow offices, he told the Free Press: “We're probably the biggest technology company people have never heard of.”

One of its more commonly used products is a speech recognition programme that enables computer users to speak into word processors rather than typing.

But its technology is being used in some of the latest and highest tech smart TVs coming onto the market and in some models of BMW and Audi.

The latter may put people in mind of the hit David Hasslehof show if the 80s – Knight Rider. Though the on-board computer programme may not be quite at the same level as 'KITT' it would probably still impress tech fans.

Nuance showed the Free Press a promotional video which shows a driver sending a text message to his wife by merely speaking to the on board computer. Then, the computer reads out her response and he searches for an Italian restaurant, by speaking to the Sat Nav programme. All is done hands free.

Mr Grant said: “It's a funny feeling talking to a computer rather than a human being. I liken it to leaving a voicemail, we're now all used to it but ten to 15 years ago people thought 'I don't want to speak to a machine'. You have got to get your head round talking to a machine.”

He admitted that Hollywood films and TV shows such as Star Trek and Knight Rider have been driving and inspiring technology companies through the years and said now: “It's a case of life imitating art.”

Although some of the technology seems futuristic is time is already come. Dragon TV, its television application, is built into some of the higher end of the market smart TVs produced by companies such as Samsung and Panasonic. Instead of using a remote, viewers just tell their telly what to do.

"It's really an exciting time,” Mr said.

"It's here and now to be honest and we have reached a tipping point with speech recognition.

“It has been around for a long time, they've been working on it for 40 years but I think mobile devices have proliferated peoples' requirements to be constantly in contact.

“It has expanded their requirement to finds alternative methods for data entry.”

That alternative being speech.

Before long it will be common place for most computer users to be interacting directly with their machine, talking to it and being spoken to in response, he said, and for one device, such as mobile phone, to be used to control multiple appliances.

Nuance employs over 6,000 people worldwide and has sales of over $1billion.