If you’re even remotely interested in the future of technology, or the evolution of computer interfaces, you’ve most likely heard of speech recognition. It’s an old idea, and many have had their hand at it, but after all the attempts over the years, is their now a speech recognition software that truly delivers? It’s been a long journey, but many would argue that a winner has emerged.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking, a software by Nuance Communications, is a speech recognition software that will allow you to use your voice to not only open applications like instant messaging, word processors or websites, but to dictate text verbally. That means you can deal with your morning emails, social networking duties and blog posts while enjoying your chocolate chip muffin and breakfast brew. Of course, in this case, it would be best to heed your mother’s advice: Don’t speak with your mouth full.
Open your email application, say “inbox” to go to inbox, “reply” to reply to an email and “send” to complete your social transaction. Nuance’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking claims up to 99% accuracy, but regardless of the marketing lingo, the software is leaps and bounds over nearly all other commercial options in terms of accuracy. The program runs smoothly and requires a far less robotic method of speech, even encouraging a more natural flow to help with recognition. In other words, the more normal your speech, the more accurate it is. Windows Speech Recognition, for example, instructs you to speak like a news reporter. Not sure that comes naturally, to most people. Back to you Bob.
To run Dragon Naturally Speaking, you’ll need at least a 1 GHz processor, 512 mb RAM and 1 gig of space. Full details are available on their site nuance.com . The software runs on Windows only. There is, however, a Mac equivalent called MacSpeech which offers the same reliability.
Best Free Alternative?
If you’re not willing to shell out the cash for speech recognition just yet, or maybe you’d like to experience the fuss before the muss, Windows Speech Recognition offers a surprisingly accurate SR engine that turns your computer into the Star Trek experience you know you want. What you lack in accuracy percentages, you get back with features. Control your mouse, select anything and write almost anywhere with Windows’ own. You can even turn off your computer with your voice- a very cool idea for anyone who has their living TV plugged into their computer.
Improving Speech Recognition
Keep in mind the type of microphone you’re using. The microphone adds volumes to the results you’ll get, so investing in a quality voice microphone is a very good idea to anyone already sold on the SR experience.
Lastly, it’s important to remember this fact when dealing with even the best speech recognition software: The more you use it, the better it becomes. Those first few days maybe be frustrating, just know that every effort you make – corrections included – will enhance your hands-free experience. Most SR software is adaptive, and designed to learn more about the way you speak in order to improve recognition. So use it often. When you write that first morning email with your eyes closed and sipping on moca, you’ll be glad you did.