We can't deny the usefulness of a voice controlled iPod at the gym, while running or snowboarding, or when overcome by the fits of extreme sloth more akin to our eXistenZ. Hell, Apple has recognized the importance of hands- and eyes-free text to audio translation and audio navigation in a number of patent applications. But seriously DirectVoxx, the price of the accessory can't cost more than the device it accessorizes. Meet the $159 muso, a voice recognition dongle for the iPod nano (which starts at $149). Muso requires zero initial setup and training yet is said to understand natural language commands like, "play me some Led Zeppelin," or "gimme jazz." While a muso voice control application from Apple's App Store seems like a given, DirectVoxx says that, "the iPhone does not allow programs to access the iPod portion of the iPhone." Shame. The muso is iPod- and English-only for now and expected to ship in December. See it in action after the break.

Otherwise check the $100 voice control solution from Accenda expected in September.

Update: DirectVoxx responded to our concern with the price. While they won't be offering any discounts they've at least offered an explanation which we've posted in whole after the break.

Read -- DirectVoxx muso
Read -- Accenda

"There has been some feedback regarding the price of the muso. The most interesting comment is that it is actually more expensive than a 4 Gb Nano. The reason is that the device itself is, basically, a computer.

The muso contains a 600 Mhz Analog Devices Blackin DSP processor, 256 Mb of SD and 512 Mb of NAND memory plus an additional 300–odd components on the main board (approx 1.5x1.5") so it's pretty packed. In order to make the form factor we are using extremely small components (some are barely visible – easier to inhale than see) including the memory chip which contains both the SD and the NAND in one package. Add to this the gymnastics involved in building in the power management features to get to a ten-hour-per-charge duty cycle. All this horsepower is what delivers the muso natural-language experience and it's, well, expensive, next-level stuff.

While we can't tell you what it actually costs to build the muso we can say that it is comparable to the cost of a motherboard you would find on a typical smartphone."