Last month I experienced a hard disk failure and bought a new machine. In the process I lost my copy of Dragon Naturally Speaking. I have purchased this software and have the CD somewhere, but we moved since I last installed it and I have no idea where the CD is.
I like to use a speech recognition program like Dragon sometimes. For example, if I have written something on paper and I need to get it into the computer, I find it easier to read it aloud rather than typing it.
I had just such an occasion this week, and without my copy of Dragon I was kind of stuck. So I thought I would see if there is any free stuff on the web that I could try. That’s when I discovered that Windows 7 has speech recognition built in, and it is easy to use it for dictation. You need a microphone (and it needs to be connected before you start), but if you have that it is really easy to get going.
To turn on speech recognition, click the Start button (bottom left corner by default), choose the “Help & Support” option and type in “Set up Speech Recognition” or just “Speech Recognition” to see how to set it up. Type in “Dictating” to learn how to start dictating.
I set it up and did not train it at all. It did a remarkably good job even so. I spoke clearly, at a moderate pace. Yes, it had problems on some words, like “anthropologist”. But all in all it was a surprisingly good experience.
This article is also interesting:
How close are we to the Star Trek ideal of conversational computers that never get it wrong?
Well, we’re getting there. It turns out that after a decade of buyouts, mergers and embezzlement scandals, there is only one major speech-recognition company left: Nuance Communications. It sells the only commercial dictation software for Windows, for Macintosh and for iPhone. Its technology drives the voice-command systems in cars from Audi, BMW, Ford and Mercedes and cell phones from Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Verizon and T-Mobile. It powers voice-activated toys, GPS units and cash machines, and it answers the phone at AT&T, Bank of America, CVS and many others.
Every year Nuance releases another new version of its consumer dictation programs, such as Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Usually it doesn’t add many new features. Instead it devotes most of its resources to a single goal: improving accuracy….