What sets this project apart is James's use of the new speech recognition and synthesis libraries that come with Windows Vista. His excellent article demonstrates a framework for interacting with AIMLBot chatter-bots and classic Z-machine text based adventures. This literally means that you can talk to the bot and the bot will talk back to you (or you can talk and listen your way through classic interactive fiction like Zork – a truly noble achievement!).
As James explains:
"The Sophia project is simply an attempt to bring speech recognition and synthesis to the text-gaming experience. With Microsoft's speech recognition technology and the API provided through the .NET 3.0 Framework's System.Speech namespace (formerly SpeechFX), not only is the performance fairly good, but implementing it has become relatively easy."
Unfortunately for me, I'm holding off buying Vista until Apple releases their Leopard operating system. I'll then purchase a new laptop (probably a MacBook Pro) and install both operating systems (and Linux too) to give me as comprehensive a development platform as possible (especially useful for testing web-based applications and various Mono projects).
Until then I'll have to wait with twitching fingers anxious to get my hands dirty playing with the code demonstrated in James's project.