Speech Recognition Software Review

I just came across this typing information about a speech to text product called Dragon Naturally Speaking. One of the features on the website is a typing challenge to see how fast you can type manually versus how fast the computer can type for you by processing your speech and turning it into text.

Here is a screenshot of the results I got the second time I went through it. ( If you want to take the test, you can visit Dragon’s typing speed test

I actually took the test twice in a row and these were the results the second time showing 46 WPM and 95% accuracy. The interesting thing about taking the test is watching how quickly the words appear on the screen as the challenger speaks them in a normal speed. Clearly, no matter how fast you type, you can’t quite keep up with the rate of speech.

I love that the test results include a estimate of the amount of time a user could save with software as opposed to typing manually. My estimated improvement time was 333%. I know most people would probably think of the leisure time they could gain if documents and e-mails could be typed that much more quickly, but I immediately though of how much more I could get accomplished in the same amount of time I now spend on the tasks. (Imagine how much faster I could write a lengthy blog post like this!)

It’s interesting to me to have found this software release at this time because not to long ago, I started thinking about looking into voice recognition software for my PC again. I tried it years ago and frankly, it was less than impressive for two reasons.

First, it took forever to for users to “train” the software which meant reading prepared text over and over and correcting the software’s mistakes so it would learn how the user pronounces certain phonemes. When I say “forever,” I mean getting the software to a decent level of accuracy in those days of the late 1990’s meant dozens of hours of practice training with it. The other thing I didn’t like about speech recognition software in the 90’s was that the computer processing power of most PC’s was just too slow for the program to process the input quickly enough to match the pace of normal speech.

In reading Dragon Reviews and checking out the coppany’s site, I’m glad to learn that this new generation of Dragon Naturally Speaking (version 10) that was released recently has overcome the previous limitations in the industry. The fact that computing power has improved so greatly in the past ten years in both speed of the processor and in RAM means that computers can now handle the demands of this type of software.

Dragon has also reduced the necessary training to a very reasonable seven minutes according to a recent New York Times review article. Now, that is a training time I can live with! Another thing the article pointed out is that the software also now has various accent selections that users can choose which means that the system is already set up to handle geographical pronunciation differences. No doubt, this highly cuts down on training time, especially for certain demographic users.

Here are two videos that show the software in action. They are definitely worth a look.

I forgot to mention that I also like that Dragon software comes with its own professional headset. That way you know you are getting the same type of decent equipment used to develop and test the item as opposed to the cheap headset you may have picked up from a discount store like I did when I needed a headset.

Here’s one more thought…if you’re a writer gearing up for a new project for National Novel Writer’s Month (abbreviated in the business as NaNoWriMo), you might want to consider using Dragon Naturally Speaking for NaNoWrimo so you can spend more time constructing the perfect novel and less time typing it out!

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