Voice recognition software

Anyone use it? Do you like it? I plan to use it for dictating my writing - which is a major portion of my job. I don’t need it for surfing, and probably would still do most of my editing work using the keyboard. So it’ll just be me, Windows XP and MS Word 2000, for the most part.

I’m a little confused right now because it appears that ScanSoft is taking over the whole industry - they own both Dragon and IBM’s ViaVoice. Does anyone know if they’re supporting both products equally? Any rumors of shutting down one or the other? I don’t want to spend a fair amount of $ ($170 for ViaVoice) and end up with an electronic orphan.

Thanks for any help.

Well, my experience is a bit over a year out of date, and it’s possible things are much better. But I kinda doubt it.

At the time, I figured that I spent an hour or two in the car every day, and if I could dictate various documents, download them into the computer at work and save beaucoup time.


Problem 1: The software was perhaps 90-95% accurate. Which sounds fantastic. Until you realize that 5-10% worth of errors is a whole lot, requiring multiple fixes per sentence. Sometimes the errors are strange enough that it takes a minute to figure out what your initial intent was.

Problem 2: For me at least, I didn’t realize that I put a mess of “ums” in when I’m thinking out loud, often don’t complete sentences, or mid-sentence switch topics. And I’d dare say most people consider me to have very good verbal communication skills. Printed conversation it turns out, at least for me, is very different from vocal conversation.

Problem 3: When you’re talking into a mic, you’re forced to think “linearly”, in that it’s not easy to go back and rework your current sentence, let alone go back and modify something three paragraphs ago. In front of a computer screen, you can think in terms of the entire document; it’s very quick to move whole paragraphs around, etc.

So… I’m pretty excited about the future prospect. (I measured my speaking/reading abilities compared to my typing at one time, and though I’m a reasonably fast typer at around 70wpm, I read and speak at triple that). But today it just doesn’t work for me in practical terms.

I dictate a lot-but it is complicated-medical/legal, & I’m reading from & looking at documents, so can’t look at a screen while I’m talking. So there are way too many errors.

Also, EVERYBODY that has tried VAC-voice activated computers, after carpal tunnel problems, for example, have NEVER been able to make it work. They remain out of work.

They really aren’t worth the trouble for my money.
I tried ViaVoice, because my dad wanted to drone his childhood reminiscences for posterity and he doesn’t want to bother mom (who spent her life taking dictation, but now insists she’s retired from that, especially for droned reminiscences)

Never got the error rates to keep him going 5 minutes without problems. Ended up just having his tapes sent to some other retired secretary to transcribe for her pin money. That was cheaper than the software, as he soon ran out of things to say.

It takes a lot of patience and tenacity to get good at it. Once you do, it is worth it if:

  1. You actually dictate directly into the computer as you watch…no tapes.

  2. You are dictating something so long your hands cramp at the thought of typing it.

It’s a long process to get good. Once you do, you’d be amazed at how well it can work.

Big pain in the ass…probably not worth the trouble, unless you’re a professional writer or something.

Ok, this is actually sounding as if it could work for me. I’ll be doing the dictation only at the screen, specifically so that I can edit using the keyboard & mouse. I generally speak in complete sentences (a friend of mine told me I was the only person he’d ever heard who does this), and in fact I tend to visualize what I’m saying on a written page. Oh, and in my current job I basically am a professional writer.

Now, technical issues - has anybody had compatibility problems with the software? Anyone have a preference?