Voice Software Makes Strides

The latest in voice recognition software from ScanSoft may begin to open the technology to new users.

The latest in voice recognition software from ScanSoft Inc. may begin to open the technology to new users.

This week, the Peabody, Mass., company will release the next iteration of its Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition software, with improved recognition, customization and roaming capabilities. The Professional version, geared for enterprises, allows users to dictate directly into Windows-based applications, including Microsoft Corp.s Word, Outlook, PowerPoint and Excel.

/zimages/6/28571.gifTo read about ScanSofts OpenSpeech Recognizer 3.0, click here.

With Version 8, recognition accuracy is improved by more than 20 percent over that in the previous version, officials said.

Speech recognition systems are seeing more adoption in industries such as health care, where dictation plays a big role. "Weve seen increasing adoption in health care from about 5 to 10 percent year-over-year growth, especially as more hospitals adopt electronic management systems," said Bill DeStefanis, vice president of marketing for Voicebrook Inc., a Lake Success, N.Y., company that resells speech recognition systems. "Doctors and IT departments are looking for alternatives to traditional transcription to reduce costs and ... turnaround times."

Although adoption of speech recognition outside of industries such as legal and health care has been slow, that could change if users become accustomed to the technology.

"It really works; its not an accuracy problem. Its largely a challenge to have people change their work habits," said DeStefanis.

New roaming capabilities allow ScanSoft users to access the application at any workstation within the LAN. Version 8 also adds support for Palm OS-based handhelds. New customization tools allow users to create templates for frequently created documents. Once a template is created, users can quickly populate it by dictating new values. Version 8 also includes enhanced formatting for dates, measurements and acronyms.

Chuck Runquist, CEO of GEMCCON, a software evaluation company in Howell, N.J., tested Version 8. "They did a super job in bringing it up to speed, in particular with the accuracy," Runquist said.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional Version 8 is available now. It costs $795 per user. Later this month, ScanSoft will roll out upgraded versions of its software with vocabularies tailored for the legal and medical industries. Those versions cost $1,095.

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