Speech Recognition, the New PC Power Tool
Move over, Siri: Nuance's speech-activated Dragon Assistant is coming to selected new Ultrabooks.
Tue, September 17, 2013
PC World — The Siri effect is spreading. Starting this fall, Nuance, a company that makes advanced speech recognition and transcription software, will bundle its Dragon Assistant, a Siri-like, vocal sidekick, with select Intel-powered Ultrabooks and All-in-One desktops.
Dragon Assistant could change how people use speech recognition in everyday computing. Even if you're a good typist, speech recognition can enhance your productivity by letting you handle everything from basic commands to emails without touching the keyboard.
My husband was an early and unexpected convert. In 2010, he had surgery on his left shoulder and was unable to use his left hand for a couple of months. His company bought him a copy of Dragon Dictate. He liked it so much that he still uses it today, long after his shoulder healed. He says it makes him faster and more productive (and he already types, on average, 130 words per minute), and it's also easier for him to work in non-traditional environments, such as in the car or outside by the pool.
Everyone worries about the training time--and there is some of that--but it varies from product to product. Choosing the right program will ensure that the benefits are worth the investment.A These tips will help you get the most out of Nuance's speech recognition programs, whether you're using the traditional desktop program, the mobile app, or the new, Ultrabook-bundled Dragon Assistant.
Dealing with Dragon
PC users have four Dragon products available. Dragon Home ($75) is for basic users--people who are looking to write emails, school papers, and grocery lists, and use basic voice commands to control their computer. The $150 Dragon Premium adds support for working in spreadsheets and presentations, while the $600 Dragon Professional adds advanced custom commands and transcription tools. The $800 Dragon Legal includes everything in Dragon Professional, along with preloaded legal terms and the ability to automatically format legal citations.
Nuance's newest offering, Dragon Assistant, works more like Nuance's mobile apps, likeA Dragon Mobile Assistant for Android and Dragon Dictation for iOS--it's a verbal gofer, rather than a dictation app.A According to Sarah Gaeta, vice president and general manager of the Dragon Desktop department at Nuance, anything beyond very quick email replies is better done with Nuance's more advanced products.
How to train your Dragon
According to Gaeta, there's no substitute for spending some quality time training your Dragon program of choice. Unlike Siri, Dragon software is designed to "learn" your voice as you use it, so it can better respond to your commands and dictation. The more you use Dragon, the more accurately it recognizes your accent, how you pronounce different vowels, the cadence of your speech, and any vocal quirks. Dragon stores that information in your personal profile, and it can store profiles on multiple people so they can all use Dragon on one computer.