Using speech recognition to improve productivity

I have always been fascinated with speech recognition technology, but have never found it very useful in the past.  The accuracy with which recognition software translated what I said to written words has always been very poor.  Windows commands were cumbersome.  I found myself spending more time correcting what I’d dictated and it proved to be an ineffective form of user input.

I’ve been running Windows Vista for a while now, but hadn't noticed the speech recognition software that’s built into it until just the other day.  I decided to give it a try.  I had not read any reviews, so I went into it blindly.  I ran through the tutorial that I found in the control panel and then enabled speech recognition.  It gives you a toolbar that indicates the current status.

WindowsVistaSpeechToolbar

The word recognition is far superior to anything I’ve tried in the past.  The commands are more natural than any I’ve attempted to use previously.  Dictating can be a very natural experience by just speaking to the computer and having it transcribe your thoughts. Controlling windows by voice takes some getting used to, but with a little practice it becomes second nature.

I certainly wouldn’t try to code using voice recognition at this point, but when writing documentation, emails and even blog posts it is already starting to increase my productivity.  Speech recognition is still far from being a completely effective technology, but what I’ve experienced with this new version in Windows Vista has shown me that it has come a long way.  I’m excited about what the future holds.

By the way, this post was written entirely with speech recognition including selecting and pasting the image in.

Comments (2) -

Hah, cool.  I didn't know Vista had a voice recognition app.  What do you use to write your posts (e.g. if Live Writer--is it Microsoft centric on the commands)?

Be cool to find a way to tie voice commands to Re# live templates.

David I do use Live Writer, but the voice commands aren't necessarily microsoft centric.  One of the cool things about it is if you don't know what commands you can use all you have to do is say "What Can I Say?" and a help dialog comes up to point you in the right direction.  This doesn't always help though and one of the best features I've found in this is just saying "Show Numbers".  This overlays all the menu items and buttons in the current window with numbers so that if you for instance want to make a selection bold, you could say "bold", or if you didn't know the appropriate command, you would say "show numbers" and then say "41" or whatever number is assigned to that item, and then say "OK" and it applies the requested action.

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