The last time I used voice recognition software it was a frustrating experience. Every five seconds I had to correct a word or manually edit another sentence. It was about as much fun as tickling a rattlesnake.
Dragon Naturally Speaking Premium Version 11.5
£120.31 from Amazon, for more see www.nuance.com
This time, after installing the software, I was asked to select from a number of passages to read to help train the system, everything from Alice in Wonderland to JFK’s inaugural speech. Unlike five years ago when it took hours of training to get any semblance of accuracy, the new software took only five minutes to recognise my voice with accuracy of about one or two mistakes every five sentences. These foibles normally involved misspelled names, or, for example, “dynamic” instead of “dynamically”. The software dynamically learns (yep, it got it right the second time), and even offers to scan your documents and emails during set-up to get a flavour of your prose.
The weird thing is getting used to talking rather than typing; it feels a bit like talking to the back of someone’s head or having a one-way conversation. The big benefit is speed; most people can type around 30 to 40 words per minute. Dragon allows you to reach 120 to 140 words per minute. You can also take control of your PC Star Trek-style, commanding it to open documents, search the Internet and even complete tasks like, “send e-mail to Mike Smith”.
The premium version costs around £120 and comes with a high-sensitivity headset microphone. There’s also a scaled-down version for £69. I’d recommend trying the free Dragon Dictation Smartphone App first (available for Android or iOS). It’s the next best thing to Siri (Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface) and a good way of testing the water to see if speaking to a computer is for you. If you can’t afford your own PA, Dragon makes a worthwhile substitute.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North