You Speak It Types

I remember watching a science fiction show on TV back in the sixties that had this remarkable device. It was a typewriter with a microphone and the secretary just talked into the microphone and it wrote what she said. I thought  hat would be great. Well, as with much of the science fiction by youth, the future is here. And, it has been here for about fifteen years.

With Speech Recognition, a child could write before they
learn to read.

Back then, the recognition was not always too accurate. Most desktop computers just didn't have enough power or memory to process continuous speech. Much has changed since then. Today is a product like Dragon NaturallySpeaking, after training, can have upwards of 99% accuracy. Frankly, that's better than my typing.

Today, I am using Dragon NaturallySpeaking the 12th edition. I am currently looking at my screen, talking and watching the words appear in front of me. It's almost like magic. I don't use speech recognition for everything. Sometimes I'll go weeks without using it at all.

But, I am getting more into using it. For a variety of reasons. First, my fingers aren't as limber as they used to be. And sometimes long periods of typing can leave my hands hurting. Secondly, it is a little bit faster than my typing. I can speak at about 60 words a minute, but I type at about 30. So, I can theoretically almost double my writing speed. In actual practice, it is somewhat less than that. However, I can get about a 50% increase in words per minute.

Now, before you rush out and buy the latest edition of the software, you might want to consider a few things about speech recognition. It does change how you write.

First, speaking and writing are different types of communication. In normal conversation, you tend to be less formal than you are when you're writing. Use more sentence fragments, more slang expressions, clich├ęs, colloquialisms, etc., which are generally don't use in formal written work. That means that you are still thinking writing, but then essentially reading out loud what you have written in your head into the microphone.

Second, you have to get used to punctuating verbally. While Dragon NaturallySpeaking does have a built in algorithm that will punctuate your work for you, it isn't very accurate – yet.

Third, you have to be patient. While you can use the program right out the box, it will have only modest accuracy. To get the best accuracy, you will need to train the program. This "training" begins with you reading several pieces of text. As you read them, the program will compare the written text to what you say. It will use that information to build a profile of how you pronounce words. However, the training doesn't stop there. You can also run programs which analyze your written documents and your e-mails. This will give it an idea about common phrases that you use. An error that the program makes, that information is stored and is used to improve the recognition.

You really have to use the program for a few weeks before you get close to that 99% accuracy that we talked about.

I have to say that I really enjoy using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I think it is the best speech recognition on the market.

There is a speech recognition that is built into your Windows operating system. You can access it under accessories-> accessibility. However, I have found that it is not as accurate as Dragon. However, it can give you an idea about how speech recognition works. So it is something that is good to practice on.

I hope that maybe this will give you a little bit more information about how to use this type of technology. It is not flawless, however, it has made my life easier.


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