Friday, 7 May 2010

Assistive technology 2: writing with speech

I'm surprised by how accurate this software (Dragon) is with text. As long as I keep talking reasonably smoothly the program renders what I say reasonably correctly. If I hesitate, or change my mind in mid-utterance, things do start to go wrong a bit.

I'm doubly surprised, given that when I was training it on the texts provided the one I selected was by Dave Barry, who writes very funny articles for a Florida newspaper. Whilst I was supposed to be training program to recognise my voice I was in fact diddling and spluttering with laughter most of the time (aha caught it out with 'giggling' -- so I have just had to train it to recognise me saying ' giggling ', this is probably something to do with my bad pronunciation of the letters gl). Nevertheless, it has still managed to recognise and write down my words more or less as I intend.

I have noticed a tendency for it to leave out odd words like 'the' and 'fall' (that should have been 'for' -- my speech defect again). Maybe these unstressed words get treated as passing noise.

Most of the problems I've had have been navigational, moving the cursor around the text or between windows on my desktop. Theoretically, I can do everything from opening an application, scrolling or moving around in it, writing or searching in it, editing entering deleting, and saving and closing, without having to touch the keyboard with my hands. In practice it's quicker to resort to the keyboard from time to time. The net saving in stress on my neck and shoulders is considerable.

Perhaps most interesting will be the impact this new mode of authoring has on my writer's voice (cleverly it inserted 's without me asking it to, although now I have just spent several minutes trying to get it to write the word apostrophe rather than just do '). I anticipate a new fluency, but with it may well come a little less rigour, both because speaking is inherently less monitored and because the effort of editing with voice commands inclines me to do it less.

Overall my biggest bone of contention is with the printed instruction manual which is so badly glued that all the pages have now fallen out of the spine and I have to continually pick them up off the floor and reassemble them.
Otherwise the dragon is turning out to be an asset.

1 comment:

  1. after reading your post i'm reminded of this video of somebody trying to use the voice recognition features in vista to write a simple perl script. it's very funny!