Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

A PC Labour Saver

Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

A PC Labour Saver

Article excerpt

"WAKE up" came the calm if not a little surprising request from an American executive last week in a media demonstration of new voice recognition software. Surprising, as me and the other journalist present looked fairly awake. I even had a coffee in front of me.

No. Wait up, he's dictating. Each time he takes a breath, a full sentence appears on the screen in front of him. No typos, everything's in context, it's looking pretty good. And fast. Apparently we speak about 120 words per minute, and on average type about 40. This program types as fast as you talk. Self-taught typers' accuracy also looms around 58%. The latest program records 99% accuracy.

"Stop listening." Comes the next, again polite, request. He's not addressing us (though telling journos not to listen would not be unheard of). He's activating and deactivating the voice control software. Actually he's pausing to go through some very groovy features that were not there on the last version I tested a few years back.

What's most impressed me is, well actually so far it's the program obeying the "stop listening" command. This is the tip of the iceberg. It's the range of voice commands - above and beyond dictating inside a Word or Excel document - that makes Dragon NaturallySpeaking Version 10 very useful software.

Everything from Quick Voice Formatting commands "Bold (slight pause) quick voice formatting commands." Done. To Voice Shortcuts that do things like open new applications and perform tasks. "Send an email to Tom Jones and Mary Moore." Presuming you're running Windows (bad news for Linux and Mac users) Outlook will open with a new email to Tom and Mary. Then start dictating.

(Ironically some versions of Outlook are quite slow to open and 'wake up'.)

The commands keep coming - insert blocks of text, either in entirety or up to a certain word. IE you could insert a pre-saved block of text apologising profusely for not being able to make the party/meeting/conference in question due to an unavoidable prior engagement, by issuing the command "no way".

You can also issue simpler commands like "Press F12" or "Insert Gadget Girl graphic." Or insert tables in word docs and run simple formulae (add up column numbers). …

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