by Rin Yeo and Jethro Wegener
Speech recognition softwares have come a long way – from being an unreliable and incredibly slow product, to the easy-to-use ones that we have in our phones these days. Sure, it is not a new technology per se, however, rather than be limited to just your phones, why not have them aid you in your work on your desktop as well? That is where Nuance Dragon comes in then!
Beginning life as Dragon Dictate back in 1994, the developers of this software have tweaked and refined it such that with each new iteration, the product gets much more improvements as compared to the last. As such, the latest Nuance Dragon Professional Individual for PC has up to 99% accuracy rate, and is also able to adapt to your style of writing by ‘reading’ the documents and emails that you have on your computer.
That said, regardless of your operating system, Nuance Dragon definitely has a version that will suit your preferred choice of system. Set up is relatively hassle free and easy, although you will need a mic plugged in for optimal performance and upon completion of the installation, there will be the chance to set up a profile – choose your region from a comprehensive list, which includes Singapore. Once you’ve made your choice, you will then have to read a short test transcript (of about 200 words or less) and this will allow calibration of the software to your tone, volume and narration.
Once set-up is completed (and you have named your profile), you’re free to dive right in and start using the software. What’s great is that if you happened to have a shared computer, each user can have their own dedicated profile, so there won’t be any confusion due to the change in speech patterns!
In order to minimise any possible disruptions for users, for PC users, a display called Dragon Bar will pop up on the top of the screen, giving you easy access to all the features that the program has to offer, while also allowing you to turn the microphone on and off. For Mac users, this will appear on the right, and from which you can toggle useful things such as adding new words and storing words like names into the system’s dictionary. Generally, they will be running in the background, so nothing gets in your way.
It takes a few minutes for one to get use to the software, although after you get the hang of it, it is incredibly easy. All you have to do is speak normally into the microphone, and your commands will be registered. For instance, when you say “Open Chrome”, the app window immediately pops up, thus making the need to search for the icon absolutely obsolete.
Between the PC and the Mac versions, punctuation for Windows is set at default off, although there is the option to turn on auto-punctuation. In comparison, the Mac version picks up some of the basic punctuations, although most of it will still need to be dictated to appear in the text. Overall, we find that it would be best that you dictate out the punctuation when need be, as it would be much more accurate that way. Also, with constant usage too, we realised that the software will get used to your voice and speech patterns too, effectively learning how you speak and reducing the errors over time.
For both the Dragon Professional and for Mac, there’s a added feature: Dragon Anywhere, which allows you to access via a iOS or Android phone for all the dictation needs that you may need while on the go, although currently only US or UK English accents is available from the American Nuance online store. Availability for other countries has yet to be announced, but if you are heavy on the US or UK English accent, this might aid you well as this means no more scribbling in your notebook or phone, as they would be able to convert audio files into words.
Overall, Nuance Dragon is awesome – designed to let you control your computer hands-free and almost entirely with voice commands only, it takes a bit of getting used to learn all the commands, but once that’s done, you can get all your work on a computer done much faster than before!