My recent review of Microsoft's Response Point awakened in me an interest in speech recognition technology. Microsoft's product utilized speech recognition to help users perform regular commands using only their voice -- to call contacts, check voice mail, or answer a few simple stock questions. I found the technology worked extraordinarily well -- requiring little to no voice training, making the entire experience very straightforward and easy to use.
I have been vaguely interested in speech recognition technology for the last few months as I have conducted many interviews with vendors, users and analysts -- and have wasted many hours transcribing those interviews. My relatively slow typing speed makes transcription a tiring affair, and speech recognition technology seemed to be the perfect antidote -- saving me both time and effort. But inertia (ok, laziness) kept me from actually doing anything about it.
Fate finally handed me the perfect excuse this week, as I broke my left pinky finger while playing basketball. As it turns out, that finger is pretty important for the process of typing -- and typing is a rather large component of what I do. With the splint on my finger, my left hand has become functionally useless on a keyboard -- and I still need to write.
After performing next to no research at all, I decided to buy Nuance's Dragon NaturallySpeaking because 1) I had heard of it, and 2) the Preferred version promised transcription of MP3 files, which would allow me to transcribe those pesky interviews.
Thanks to Amazon Prime's discount on one-day delivery, I had the software in hand the next day. Installation and initial training of the software took under an hour, and now I am writing using (mostly) only my voice, as I am still working out streamlining a combination of voice and one-handed editing. First impression -- pretty cool.
So far, what I actually find the most difficult when using the software is knowing what I'm going to say far enough in advance to form together cohesive sentences and paragraphs that the software can better understand and punctuate. I guess that will come with time.
I assume I will be using the software frequently over the next several weeks as the finger heals, so I am sure I will have more things to say about the software later. But right now, I think I've found a godsend.