View Full Version : Voice Recognition Computer Typer Thingies

10-19-2001, 09:33 AM
Fuck, I don't know what to call them :p You know, the software which lets you talk to your computer to enter text in a program?

Has anyone used these things? Ever since I knew they existed I wanted to buy them, but I've always been pretty leary. So:
Have any of you used them? and What were your experiences?

10-19-2001, 10:34 AM
I've tried one but didn't like it. For one thing, I have a bit of a speech impediment. I also recall a Mr. Wizard demonstration of voice recognition software some 15 years ago, "Recognize speech. Wreck a nice beach." I think today's programs still have trouble differentiating these two phrases.

And watch your language, this isn't the pit! :)

10-19-2001, 11:23 AM
For the record, I believe it's called "voice recognition software."

10-19-2001, 11:54 AM
I've never used one, but I do know people who do. I used to work with a woman who had carpal tunnel syndrome. She was a programmer, so this was a big issue - she coudn't type. She used software from Dragon systems to do all her work. She was productive, so it must have worked pretty well.

My ex works at a place called Syvox, and they have a product that is supposed to work pretty well.

Additionally, I believe WinXP comes with some voice software built in. I've never used it, but it might be worthing looking into at least.

10-19-2001, 12:14 PM
We have some of this software here for handicapped students to use. It works all right, but you are still better off typing if you know how to type fairly well. First of all, you cannot speak normally and naturally and get good results - the software cannot translate speech quickly and accurately enough at the speeds at which most people talk, so you have to develop a slower, more stilted speech pattern to get the best results.

Also, after installing the software, you need to take it through some "learning exercises" where you say certain things into the microphone and the software "learns" how you pronounce certain words to increase its accuracy. If you plan on having several people use the same software, then every person who will be using it will have to go through those exercises. I don't know if there is a limit to how many people are allowed to use the same set of software; since we have it at work, we always have a bunch of licenses. That might be something you want to look into if it is relevant to your situation before you commit yourself to buying something.

10-19-2001, 04:51 PM
Well, there's 2 kinds of software. One is voice recognition. This actually works pretty well. It's the "Call Home" type thing on a cell phone. It recognizes the phrase "call home" as a command. With a bit of "training" of the software it can work pretty consistently and be handy for things like phones where the other input is limited (a numpad).

Speech recognition is still a bit... twitchy. Spoken language is context sensitive, so that has to be taken into account. People speak differently, pronounce differently, have an accent... It's a great deal more complicated and hence much more prone to errors. "Call home" only has to be differentiated from a non-command and the other commands, speech has to be singled out from all the words available (or at least commonly used) and put into the correct context, with correct punctuation, etc.

I'm not sure how good speech recognition is at the moment, though I had a friend who wrote most of his thesis using one a few years back, but voice recognition can be pretty solid.

10-19-2001, 05:26 PM
I have used, and really like, a program called Dragon Naturally Speaking. I've used it for years, though its a bit pricey. Most of the voice/speach recognition programs are. This one is speach recognition.

The only real complaints I have about it are...

It takes a while to set up. Forty five minutes to an hour of straight reading text to get it "used to" your speach patterns. Though I did get to read from Dilbert for mine. ;)

Even after you "train" it, it makes obvious mistakes. Which is irritating to say the least.

You need a fairly fast and modern computer to run it well. Its a memory hog.

The above are problems that will probably happen with any speach recognition software.

The only other real problem I had is that in the begining I had a tendancy to speak to slowly for the program. Its pretty obsessive about that "speak naturally" thing. When I didn't it messed up far more often than when I just spoke at my normal pace and pitch.

I don't know if that is a problem other programs would have.

On the plus side if you can stick with it for about a week you'll have ironed out all the annoying mistypes. It learns as you go. It has a feature where you can input various documents you have typed so that it can load the words you commonly use into the "active" dictionary. It has voice correction commands, ways to erase the preceding text or change it. If it mistypes there is a voice command submenu you where you can easily choose the correct phrase and the program will alter its speach recognition files accordingly, thus the afore mentioned learning curve. You can also use the speach recognition software to navigate menus.

Overall I find it quite handy, though I must admit my version is several years old and the technology is always improving. If I could afford it I would definately buy one of the newer versions, I can't imagine how much better THEY must be by now.

10-19-2001, 08:58 PM
I am dictating this response with Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 5.0. The standard version of this software costs about $100, the preferred edition costs around $180 and professional edition costs about $500.

I suspect that arieanne has version 3.0 and the software has improved alot in accuracy, speed, and speed of training since then.

The difference between the preferred edition and professional edition is that the professional edition has a powerful macro writer. Preferred can support multiple speakers. Standard supports a single speaker. Check http://www.dragonsys.com for more info. Also, the less expensive versions bundle a less expensive microphone. Many Dragon users find the preferred edition completely sufficient for their needs. It's pretty common to purchase a better microphone than the one that comes bundled with preferred. A really good noise canceling microphone costs between 70 and $100.

The initial training time for Dragon NaturallySpeaking is quite brief, contrary to the 45 minutes to an hour required by older versions. Only about 10 to 15 minutes of reading followed by just a few minutes of processing is sufficient to get you started the very good speed and accuracy, assuming that your speech is reasonably clear and easy for the software to comprehend. You can improve your results further, by processing a bunch of your writing with the software so it recognizes patterns in your writing to make better guesses as it does recognition. The software also improves as you correct errors. A reasonably fast computer, and plenty of memory are important. A minimum of a Pentium III, 500 MHz machine with 256 MB of RAM is what I would recommend. A faster machine than a PIII 500 won't get you more much more accuracy, but the recognition speed will be better, so you can have more applications open and speak more quickly and the software won't get behind. With my 667 PIII and 384MB I can't really dictate too fast for the software.

Another possible choice for speech recognition software is ViaVoice version 9.0. As Dragon Systems is about to be sold off by Lernout & Hauspie the company that purchased Dragon just a few years ago, but then went to Chapter 11, ViaVoice is the only software available from a company that's not under a financial cloud. However, Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 4 got better reviews than ViaVoice version 8, due to slightly better recognition accuracy, and better interface. I haven't seen any reviews of version 5 vs. version 8. A review of ViaVoice 9.0 was just posted at http://www.cnet.com, but with no comparisons to other products.

If you do a lot of writing, and are just a fair to middling typist, or have problems with your hands, speech recognition could be for you. Current software is quite fast and accurate. Dragon has very good command and control within Microsoft Word, Excel, and Internet Explorer. I don't know about support of Windows XP, probably not yet as ViaVoice version 9.0 only has promises of future support at this point also.

10-19-2001, 09:17 PM
originally posted by jdc
I suspect that arieanne has version 3.0 and the software has improved alot in accuracy, speed, and speed of training since then.
You are correct, I have version 3.0 which I am still very happy with but I absolutely want the newer version.

I didn't realize Dragon was about to be bought out and I'm glad you mentioned it. Puts a whole new sense of urgency on scrapeing (sp) together that $100...

My mother has ViaVoice for work and I'm not much impressed with it. That may just be due to the fact that I've always used Dragon and am more used to it. Also the day I was there she had only had it for a few days so wasn't quite used to it yet.

I agree 100% with your 256mb minimum on the ram. That's what I've got and I don't expierence much lag. Another 128mb would be perfect. (I tend to do have WAY to much running at a time.)

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