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Talking to myself

Dragon Express
I've always been deeply sceptical about the utility of voice recognition software. There's always seem to be so much that was a pipe dream about it. The background noise, differences in the user's voices and many other complications such as processing power all combine to make it very difficult thing to do.

My scepticism weakened a little when I tried the free Dragon Dictation application for the iPhone. Although the processing for this was done via the Cloud, the results were deeply impressive when I tried it. Apple's Siri voice detection system and personal assistant also showed great promise. So when I heard that Dragon had released a new application by the App Store, called Dragon Express, which mirrored the iPhone application using local processing I couldn't resist trying it.

I'm dictating this using the internal microphone on my MacBook. There is a stage of about 2 min of training for Dragon Express it adjusts to my voice, the microphone, and the typical background noise. The accuracy of the voice recognition is quite impressive. You do have to speak slowly and clearly, but that actually encourages you to think about what you are saying. If anything, it clarifies your thought processes. There have only been a few stumbles in translating what I've said. An example of that will be the word "free" which could get mistaken for the number "three". Indeed, I did have to manually alter that word to correct it.

The software does suffer from the problem are shown by Isaac Asimov's "Second Foundation" scene involving Arkady where an entire conversation is inadvertently recorded for posterity. If you leave it open and running it will listen to you and assume you're talking to it. However, I could actually see a use for this. Maybe not when the children around, but now it's quite an evening with the kids in bed it means I can be quite lazy in preparing material. All in all, so far I'm impressed. Well done, Nuance, this could change the way I work.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dragon-express/id458613689?mt=12 Requires Lion.