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Dragon Naturally Speaking – Voice Recognition for No Typing

written by: Karishma Sundaram•edited by: Ronda Bowen•updated: 6/28/2011

Typing can be very tedious at times, especially since the speed of the mind works much faster than that of the fingers. Having a computer comprehend simple voice commands, as well as transcribe dictation accurately.

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    Dragon Naturally Speaking is a great tool to have if there is a copious amount of typing to do. It is a speech recognition system that has been developed by Dragon Systems. Previous versions required a certain level of voice training before the software became totally effective. The latest version does not have this initial requirement.

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    Speech to Text

    There are three facets of the software: firstly, the dictation feature which converts speech input into text. The text input can be done using most common word processing tools, and if the software misinterprets the input in any way, it is easy to edit the result immediately. The software has a learning module that will correct the mistakes it makes once so as not to repeat them. Once the dictation feature builds an accurate profile of the speaker, the misinterpretations reduce significantly. This reduction in mistakes, in turn, increases the actual productivity. In fact, the marketing company, Nuance Communications, avers that even with a typing speed of 40 words per minute, it takes approximately 25 minutes to type a thousand word article, and only about 7 minutes for the software to transcribe it.

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    Voice Commands

    The second feature which is very convenient is the voice command feature. There is a small strip which appears on the main window. This strip controls the way the speech inputs are interpreted. By selecting the option that specifies that the inputs are to be considered commands, the commands are then converted into actual actions. For example, saying ‘New file’ into the microphone will open a new file of whichever program happens to be running and the time. This feature is particularly useful for hands-free computer mobility.

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    Text to Speech

    The last feature is a text to speech converter, which synthesizes text into audio format. While this is usually a bonus feature, it does have implications for differently-abled people. When combined with the other features, this third one makes Dragon Naturally Speaking a tool that allows people with certain disabilities to access the computer by circumventing their disabilities altogether.

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    Other features and add-ons

    Dragon Naturally Speaking does require a significant chunk of memory for it to work without pauses. In terms of hardware, all that is actually needed is a microphone. Good speakers are a bonus, but really only necessary for the text to speech converter. The software suite incorporates a word processing program even though it can be used with a number of programs. The suite also has a data mining for the audio files that it collects, and a SDK (software development kit), which more advanced users can leverage to their advantage.

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    The interface is easy to use and fairly intuitive, with clear controls. The software is available in many packages, ranging from personal to professional ones like medical and legal suites. The software was designed for the Windows platform, but also works equally well on a Macintosh.