I’ve been using various voice to text solutions for a number of years. I began using Nuance’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking when it was back in version 7 or 8. Unfortunately, back then it was often more proof of concept than useful tool. The process of transcribing text was slow and the accuracy was not all that good. Over the years two things have changed. First, the power of our devices has grown exponentially. My iPhone is, on many levels, as powerful or more powerful than the computer I was using just a few years ago. And my iMac and my MacBook Pro have power and speed that I couldn’t have dreamed about a few years ago. Second, the speech to text technology has improved significantly. It just works better. Often, so long as you’re speaking properly — meaning slowly and clearly — the process of speaking and having your words transcribed can now approach 100% accuracy.
That’s what this new series is all about. “Look Ma no hands — Voice Recognition Technology Today” will be an opportunity for me to look at the various tools available on multiple platforms and how to make the best use of them. We’ll look at desktop applications that allow you to speak and create text and will also look at the emerging, and incredibly powerful, devices and technologies available on handhelds.
First up will look at the granddaddy of them all — Dragon NaturallySpeaking.
Now in version 10 of Dragon, the software is incredibly accurate and powerful. It allows you to speak and see the words magically appear on the screen. Better yet, you can record something on your iPhone and later transcribe it when you get to your desktop using Dragon NaturallySpeaking.
After that, we’ll take a look at the top Mac application for speech to text transcription — MacSpeech Dictate. It uses Dragon’s transcription engine and, as a result, is far more accurate than the application it replaced. It, however, still doesn’t match Dragon for its accuracy, speed and overall usefulness.
After that we’ll turn our attention to the newest area in which voice to text transcription is making its mark — handhelds. There are a number of applications and services already available for both the iPhone and Blackberry that work remarkably well. I know, because I use them every single day. We will look at a few, as well as the one I’m most excited about which, sometime in the next month or two, we will be on to talk about publicly.
One other dimension of the series that’s a little bit unique — every one of the entries is going to be written using voice to text transcription software. When possible, it’ll be written using the software discussed and then only later cleaned up a little bit before posting on the website. Attached to each post will be a video clip of that post being created using speech.
So, the video that’s just below this text is a clip of my having written this post using Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 10 professional while running in a virtual Windows 7 PC on my iMac. Better yet, it’s being written on my iMac without my even having to wear a headset and while the video is rather boring (VERY BORING) it will give you a sense of how best to speak when trying to transcribe and the speed with which you’re able to do so.
So I look forward to sharing this journey with you and, along the way, I hope you pick up a few pointers on how best to use this amazing technology.