Is Dragon Naturally Speaking a good tool for me?
Dragon Naturally Speaking is one of the leading voice recognition packages. Many people wonder what voice recognition is; or, if they're vaguely aware of its promise and purpose, they assume that it's ineffective and spotty because when the technology first became public it had some seemingly insurmountable problems. That is, people might remember reading about such things as inaccuracies, missed words, and so forth, not realizing that voice recognition has made enormous advances throughout the years and is now a pretty viable option for those who wish to write documents, letters, short stories, essays, journal entries and so forth without the hassle and discomfort of actually using a pencil or typing on a computer.
Before we get to Dragon Speaking Naturally, though, let's clear one thing up. When people usually say "Voice recognition" they actually mean "speech recognition." Voice recognition is something apart from speech recognition, and means exactly what the words imply. Voice recognition technology is technology that recognizes specific voices. A voice can be used, for example, the same way a finger print can, that is, to tell one individual apart from another. Everyone's voice is specific to them, just like their retinas, just like their fingerprints-and voice recognition takes advantage of this physical trait. Speech recognition, on the other hand, recognizes human speech-what humans say-and then conveniently types it up for them.
Dragon Naturally Speaking, as we mentioned in the first paragraph, is an excellent example of voice (speech) recognition technology at its best. Dragon Naturally Speaking surprised its initial reviewers by what seemed to be an uncanny ability to recognize and accurately record even the most ambiguous sentence constructions.
One critic said that he was very skeptical when he first approached Dragon Naturally Speaking. He installed the software on his computer, and was firstly impressed by the convenience and simplicity of that sometimes maddening, complicated process. After installing the software, he set up the hardware aspects of Dragon Naturally Speaking (again, an easy process), which included a microphone which could be plugged into the computer just like a mouse, speakers, or a joystick. Then he ran Dragon Naturally Speaking. He spoke into the microphone and lo! the words that he spoke appeared as if by magic on his computer screen.
The critic, according to his review, started slow. That is, he gave Dragon Naturally Speaking a fair chance. He was like an expert pitcher who, facing an unknown, untried batter, decides to throw the batter an "easy one" to find out what the batter is minimally capable of. In essence, said the critic, Dragon Naturally Speaking knocked his "easy one" out of the park. Simple sentences such as "I like Jam," "Mary loves Albert," "Napoleon wears his funny hat even in the bath," and "the Russians got him in the end," rolled out across the computer with near-perfection. Of course, no program is perfect; anything that's made by a human being is bound to have a flaw or two (just take Microsoft as an example). But again, overall, Dragon Naturally Speaking knocked these "easy ones" out of the park.
Then the critic moved on to harder sentences. "Harder sentences," when speaking of voice (speech) recognition technology, doesn't mean "longer sentences; sentences with bigger words; sentences conveying a complicated Eastern philosophy." Rather, it means that some sentences have words that sound very much alike, are spelled very much alike, but have quite different meanings. For example, the critic tried a sentence like this: "They're saying their clothes were stolen and flung in that tree over there." That sentence contains three words sounding very much alike but with different meanings: "They're," "their," and "there." Would Dragon Naturally Speaking notice the difference?
Yes, said the critic, it did. Dragon Naturally Speaking is trained to put words in context, it has memorized thousands of different grammatical rules and it applies those rules to the sentences you speak. To take another program that performs a similar (but less complicated) maneuver, think of the Check Grammar option on your word processor. One day you're typing along and you write: "The monster saw that at least four parts of the girl looked juicy enough to eat: her eyeballs (which counted as two), her left arm, and the juicy double cheeseburger she held in her trembling right hand. Would the monster also notice her creamy milkshake."
Immediately, a little green squiggle appears under the word "milkshake." The Grammar tool knows that most sentences that begin with the word "Would" end with a question mark. Not all of them necessarily do, but enough that the Grammar option feels confident in calling your attention to a possible error.
Dragon Naturally Speaking works similarly with easy and difficult sentences: it thinks very rapidly, figures out the grammar, and repeats what you've just said into the microphone. Dragon Speaking Naturally is a great option for those who want to speak instead of type, and especially for those who are differently abled and cannot type. Dragon Naturally Speaking has received uniformly good reviews and you can feel confident, should you decide to purchase it, that you're getting a quality product.