Voice Recognition Tool- Say What?!

Posted by Theresa Hietpas

Dec 3, 2015 9:00:00 AM

microphone_icon.jpgTalking instead of typing!

If you have an iPad, Android tablet, or smartphone, you may have noticed a little “microphone” symbol on your keypad (usually to the left of your spacebar or on the number row). If you haven’t tried it yet, you should.  It’s an alternative to typing text that will change the way you interact with your phone.

Speech recognition or dictation is several times faster than typing, and infinitely faster than tapping or swiping on a tiny keyboard.  Just tap the microphone, wait for it to light up the recorder screen, and speak your text, email or other documents in your normal voice, enunciating clearly and using simple commands like “new paragraph”, “comma”, or “smiley face” to add characters and basic formatting.

Example:  “Dear Paul comma new paragraph I sent you a copy of the latest report period It should be on your desk already period smiley face”  Gets you:

Dear Paul,

I sent you a copy of the latest report. It should be on your desk already. :)

It’s fast, easy, and surprisingly accurate. Perfect for quick text messages and short emails.  It works well for almost everyone, and if you allow it in your settings, will learn from your corrections.The pre-installed software for voice recognition such as Siri works great for short text messages or notes.

For longer and more complex documents, you need a more powerful tool. One that can be trained to your voice, has advanced formatting capabilities, shortcuts for repetitive text and other useful features. The hands-down favorite in that category is the Dragon Naturally Speaking and Dragon Professional products from Nuance.  Nuance is the industry leader in speech recognition technology, and it is the software behind the voice recognition capability of your phones and tablets, and many of the commercial voice menus and question prompts you encounter when calling businesses.

The most recent Dragon versions can be used right out of the box with better than 95% accuracy for most people.  It recognizes regional and ethnic accents, and age-based voice variations, and with a little bit of time spent reading training texts aloud, Dragon will get even better at recognizing your specific speech patterns and variations.  If you’ll let it scan your email and document files, it will learn to recognize words and phrases you use frequently, pick up industry terminology and special spellings, etc.

Once Dragon has done what it can automatically, you can add additional vocabulary, spellings, and even text shortcuts just by “training” those phrases and spellings and adding them to your speech file. The more you correct Dragon as you use it, the better it gets at not making mistakes.

You can use it to navigate Windows, most popular web browsers and email programs, and to insert text almost anywhere you can type.  And if you’d like, you use it to read text to you.

Professional versions of the software let you create voice macros that can automate a whole series of tasks - like sending an email to a group of people, copying someone else, and printing a copy for your file – with a simple command like “Send standard distribution email.”

If you’re on the go and want to record a memo, you can send it back to Dragon for quick and easy transcription so all you have to do is formatting and correction.  There’s some cost involved.  An individual Dragon Professional license is around $300, and Dragon for Mac and personal editions can be had for as little as $99 if you catch a promotion.  But if you are willing to invest a little time in training the program and learning to use it, it will save you countless hours (and a lot of wear and tear on your wrists and hands).  It’s worth noting as well, that many businesses use speech recognition as an adaptation, accommodation or injury prevention tool for employees whose jobs make them prone to repetitive stress injuries.

Want to try speech recognition without spending any money?  You can download a trial version of some editions, or you could just use the speech recognition built into Windows.  Just click the start button, type “Speech”, and you’ll be presented with a variety of control panel options for setting it up.  Like Dragon, you’ll be prompted to test your microphone and speakers, and offered options to train the software to recognize your voice.  It won’t be precisely the same experience, but the recognition quality is very good, nonetheless.  If you find you like it, it’s worth checking out the Dragon products as well.

In these days when most of us tap, swipe and type at unprecedented levels for both business and pleasure, speech recognition is a handy tool to save your wrists, and your time.  It may take a little practice to get it working well, but even if you only use it for text messages and short emails on your phone, it’s worth giving it a try or three!

Interested in learning more? Contact our Application Services Team to help you navigate the best voice recognition option for your business! Or give us a call at: 414-228-7474.

Topics: Communications, Smartphone, applications

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