Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9.

Programs, Tools, Useful Things by Chris Coyier

I’m not typing this post, I’m saying it. I’m using the voice recognition software Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9 from Nuance. It’s a Windows only application that supposed to be the best of its kind. After a painless install and about 15 minutes of optional training, I’m up and dictating. So far, it’s only missed about two words (It’s having some trouble with “I’m”). I wish I could offer a more interesting review comparing it to other such software, but this is my first time using voice recognition with anything other than the primitive version of voice activated dialing on my cell phone.

The application consists of a toolbar across the top of your screen called the DragonBar where you can find all the various tools, like the Accuracy Center (the more you train it, the better it gets), the New Word command (you can train it learn specific words), as well as controls for turning the microphone on and off. A headset comes with the software which makes you look a bit like a tele-marketer, but does the trick just fine. You are able to dictate text into any application and into any text field. It’s not having any problem typing into WordPress in Firefox (although it just had problems with those words). The software is available in a variety of languages and in different versions like medical and legal, which come configured to recognize words and terms common only to those professions.

I could see this being a great tool if you had to transcribe a bunch of text or if you had some kind of disability which made it much easier for you to speak than type. That isn’t quite how Nuance markets the product. They claim it can improve productivity for average folks, as an average person can speak 120 words per minute and only type 40. That might sound like you will be writing emails at lightning speed, which you will, but it doesn’t take into the account that you aren’t nearly as confident with a piece of text that was transcribed than one that you typed yourself. As a result, you need to proofread every word, which actually makes it much slower. I’m sure with time and training you could get your accuracy pretty high, but pretty high isn’t 100%. The mistakes are harder to proofread for as well, since they aren’t misspelled words, they are misinterpreted words or phrases. As it is, the software is great, it works well, I’m glad there is a good company working on it, but I’m not quite ready to give up typing for dictating on a regular basis. Makes me wonder if employees of Nuance use it or not…


Comments (2)

2 replies on “Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9.”

Difficult to use when late night chatting in a “not home alone” situation. Reminds me of a commercial where a guy is trying to navigate a customer service directory and has to repeat his user name twice in front of a bunch of people – the name was “Big Daddy”.

I have the older version of this (from around ’98 before Dragon Systems was bought out by/renamed Nuance) called Dragon Point & Speak. The cool thing is that it was really good even back then. I had very little trouble with it when I first used it for about 3 days, and it even adapted to the way I talk. What’s fun to do is some bebop jazz and see what it thinks your saying =P

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