Top Windows Must-Have Apps: Dragon NaturallySpeaking - InformationWeek

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2/18/2009
08:42 AM
Alexander Wolfe
Alexander Wolfe
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Top Windows Must-Have Apps: Dragon NaturallySpeaking

I'm writing (actually, speaking) this post using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. It's the first speech-recognition tool for the PC that's really ready for prime time. Indeed, since I started using it about six months ago, it's become one of my top 10 Windows must-have applications. Read on to see a video chat I had with Peter Mahoney of Nuance Communications, the maker of NaturallySpeaking.

I'm writing (actually, speaking) this post using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. It's the first speech-recognition tool for the PC that's really ready for prime time. Indeed, since I started using it about six months ago, it's become one of my top 10 Windows must-have applications. Read on to see a video chat I had with Peter Mahoney of Nuance Communications, the maker of NaturallySpeaking.The biggest surprise in using a speech-recognition tool like NaturallySpeaking is that it isn't simply a replacement for typing. Nor are you porting over your previous keyboard-centric ways of doing things to speech. It's a completely different way of thinking. That actually turns out to be something of a shock. When I installed NaturallySpeaking, I assumed that I'd be verbally creating my documents and then I could cut that time down to practically nothing. (All the free time would let me do the hundred and one other multiple tasks that I never get to; not.)

In fact, creating a document by speaking into a microphone can be rather disconcerting at first. Perhaps that's not the case for salespeople or doctors or lawyers or the many other businesspeople and professionals who aren't adept at typing and thus get huge time savings by being able to dictate their notes directly into the computer.

My problem is that I probably have the process of creating a fully formed blog post down a bit too pat. Speaking requires me to get a little bit looser than I was prepared to do. Nevertheless, once you get used to using NaturallySpeaking, you find it invaluable.

The latest version of the app is NaturallySpeaking 10, and it was released last August. With each rev, Nuance Communications improves the ability of the app to tune its recognition to the user (there's a short "training" period after you install it) and reduces the error rate.

OK, so check out my little video in which I talk to Peter Mahoney, senior VP and general manager of the Dragon product line at Nuance Communications:

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Alex Wolfe is editor-in-chief of InformationWeek.com.

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