Thursday, August 12, 2010

talking to your computer

People sometimes ask me about the speech recognition software I use, so I thought I'd share some of my experiences. I use a particular, well-known brand, but haven't mentioned it by name because I don't want this blog to be construed as an advertisement. I hope the following helps if you're interested in the topic.

I bought my speech recognition software at an office supply store for about $200. Installation is straightforward. One has to train it to recognize one's voice and it takes awhile to get used to using the different commands. But the support offered is pretty good.

Speech recognition software works with most other software, and also works for filling in online forms, etc. When using it, one wears a microphone, headset type. The microphone that comes with it isn't great but better ones are available. One can search the Internet to identify possibilities, then order by mail. In my experience the chances of buying a suitable microphone in a regular office-supply store are slim.

The software isn't error-free, i.e., it doesn't always recognize what one says. It recognizes things best when they're said in whole sentences or even paragraphs, not a word or two at a time. One can correct errors with the keyboard. Alternatively, one can correct them by voice. The advantage of doing them by voice is that the software learns from these corrections, and is less likely to make the same mistake again. One can even teach the software words from other languages.

I'm not sure I would have had the patience to bring this software up to speed if I hadn't had repetitive strain injury. But now I use it even though the RSI isn't bothering me because it's faster for some things, especially answering e-mails.