Although the world record for typing is 216 words per minute, most people type at 40 words per minute which is one third the rate of common human speech. Dragon Naturally Speaking voice recognition software by Nuance Communications solves the problem of slow typing speeds by transforming voice into content at normal speaking rates.
Freelance writers who are compensated on a per article basis, can greatly increase their hourly wage by using speech recognition applications such as this. Very slow typists can also benefit a great deal. Those who type large company documents and many emails will benefit from productivity gains. Another group of people who benefit are those that are suffering repetitive strain injuries such as carpal tunnel.
When the first speech to text software came out in the 1990s, words had to be separated by a pause in order not to confuse the software. This is no longer essential. Older versions of Dragon Naturally Speaking often congested the computer and were also less accurate. Dragon Naturally Speaking 11, a quantum leap ahead from previous versions, does not have those limitations. Recent older versions would often interpret a breath as a possible word. Eleven does not do this anymore so it’s no longer necessary to turn off the microphone when taking a break from dictation.
The installation of Dragon Naturally Speaking is straightforward. Once the files have been copied and registered into your system, the microphone needs to be calibrated and a few audio tests have to be done. Regarding the microphone, it is recommended that the one by Nuance is used for compatibility reasons. In general, a wired headset will work better at a lower cost since wireless headsets that work well with this program are generally very costly. In order to use a wireless headset, an upgrade to the Preferred version of the software is necessary.
The next step, after installation, is to move through the tutorials. Picking an easier reading is recommended. Later, can do a harder reading and refer back to General Training, if required. To get the best results, speak with a normal voice. Do not over-enunciate or use a different voice because even though the program is excellent, its ability to comprehend is not as good as a person’s. So just speak normally.
Next, it is time to dictate some dictation. Initially, the program will make a few errors. Avoid correcting incorrect words manually. Instead, use the Select That command to let the software know what the correct word is. By not doing this step, the software will not improve its ability to comprehend.
Once the software adapts to your unique manner of speaking, it’s error rate will decrease and not exceed 1.5 percent which is comparable to that of professional typists anyway. Even if users spend the same amount of time correcting transcription typos, much valuable time has been saved thanks to the speed of the software.
Dragon Naturally Speaking runs on Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. It can handle dictation from most Microsoft Office products such as Word and Excel. It also dictates into other popular software products such as Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, AOL and Corel WordPerfect.
The basic version of Dragon Naturally Speaking sells for $99.99 from the official website, but you may find it for less at other retailers. The Preferred version supports wireless microphone and includes several additional features. There are specialized versions suitable for legal and medical professionals such as Dragon Naturally Speaking Medical and Dragon Naturally Speaking Legal, respectively. Those have extended glossaries.
Dragon Naturally Speaking gets better with usage. The better it knows your voice, the better it performs. Freelance writers can give themselves a significant raise since dictation is much faster than typing and writer’s block is not as big an issue during verbal speech. It is unrealistic to expect a speak to text software to become error free. What is certain though is that it will boost your productivity by a factor of three or so.