Saturday, January 9, 2010

Me and the Dragon: Naturally Speaking

I read a number of reviews on Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 that said if you have Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9.5, it's not worth upgrading.

If you have a physical disability, that's just not true. The new version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking offers many features in terms of navigating the desktop and using the web that are highly useful. Moreover, the accuracy is increased and this is noticeable right out of the box.

I was fortunate enough to receive Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 in the mail this week. Installation was quick and easy on a Vista 32 laptop. I purchased a Plantronics USB headset, because I find that the soundcards on laptops are generally not optimal for voice-recognition.

The first thing I noticed, after doing a short training, was that I was getting fewer mistakes in my dictation. I dictated three pages of correspondence and there were only three errors, even though I had only done a few minutes of training. Based on my experiences, this is a phenomenal result.

After I finished my work, I decided to check out some of the fun features on Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10. I learned that I could search the web, the news, images, Wikipedia, eBay and almost any site with my voice. The navigation commands responded briskly and were much better in Firefox, which I prefer to use. I opened iTunes and read an book completely by voice. Not only is the desktop navigation better, but the number of times I have to use a dictation box to input data has decreased. I was able to type right on Facebook and twitter. I can blog directly into blogger with the same level of accuracy as on other programs.

This, of course, also applies to the many programs I use for my job. Because I'm on the computer for many hours a day, the less I have to use workarounds for what voice recognition doesn't do, the less fatigue I have. I'm able to work a calculator by voice, do my research by voice, set up tables by voice, and a myriad of other tasks, including searching my e-mails, by voice. Believe me, all of this is extremely worth upgrading to a newer version of voice recognition.

There are instances where the voice-recognition cannot help me, especially regarding cursor control. Using the Mouse Grid during a busy day isn't practical. I continue to look for very inexpensive ways to solve this that don't require energy drain. I'm excited by the work being done with breath control of the cursor at the CES convention this week and wrote the company about being a possible tester. A mass-market alternative to the present technology would lower the cost for what I need and it's great to see that starting to happen.

If anyone else would like to leave comments about their experiences with voice-recognition or have any questions please feel free to do so.


Disabled NYC said...

Voice recognition user here. I'm still using the obselete DragonDictate 3 mostly because of cursor control issues on NaturallySpeaking. The absence of a clear delineation between dictation and command functions introduces many errors for someone like me who does not have the option of reaching for the mouse. I'd love to hear more about the breath control cursor, is it the one controlled by vowel and consonant sounds?

Wheelie Catholic said...

I can understand why you're using Dragon Dictate- the cursor control is a real issue on DNS.

Here's the Engadget article on the breath control cursor by Zyxio. It says it uses breath directionality and is aimed at gamers as well as disabled users. If you google Zyxio and CES there are a number of videos showing people using it too. So far, no reply about being a tester- or I'd have more info! Take care.

Georzetta said...

Have you heard any updates about the breath control cursor?

I'm wondering how one would use a microphone for dictation and breath control cursor?