This blog was written by my voice and speech recognition software in a matter of minutes.
Modern speech recognition software really works.
Just by speaking into a headset, you can have your “robot stenographer” type words as quickly as you can speak them. Right now I am writing these words, using NaturallySpeaking by Dragon. I’m a little rusty at this, and I’m using the old version 10, which works fine.
You “train” NaturallySpeaking by reading sample texts aloud
The software needs to learn how you pronounce words. It also pays attention to corrections you make by hand to how it “heard” you. Once NaturallySpeaking has learned the sound of your voice, you can speak at a normal pace and get words on the page much much faster than typing. In fact the real challenge is devising something interesting to write, since the software captures your words so quickly it doesn’t give you much time to think.
Composing at talking speed may get you closer to your reader, who reads about twice that fast
According to Wikipedia, “The average American adult reads prose text at 250 to 300 words per minute.” “Audiobooks are recommended to be 150–160 words per minute, which is the range that people comfortably hear and vocalize words.”* If you are like me, you don’t type nearly that fast!
NaturallySpeaking is remarkable for transcribing interviews.
Although it’s not really feasible to train NaturallySpeaking to understand a tape of your interview subject, it’s quite simple for you to listen along, and repeat everything your subject says. The software is not perfect but it’s faster than transcribing the tape and a lot less work. Highly recommended.
Get a Good Headset with Microphone
The older version of the software is pretty cheap and it’s quite simple to install and train, and you get better at using it (and it gets better at understanding you) with just a little practice. To go with NaturallySpeaking I purchased a very comfortable and easy to connect Logitech USB Headset which has worked flawlessly.
This is the first time I’ve tried NaturallySpeaking with WordPress, and it works like a charm. Sure I’ll have to clean up the text a little bit, but I just wrote this entire blog in a few minutes. I can imagine using speech recognition for “automatic writing” as a method to help overcome writer’s block.
Careful, NaturallySpeaking is quite powerful
When you learn the commands it’s possible to open programs and perform other kinds of functions using only your voice. This “feature” can get a little tricky when the software begins switching pages and opening menus by itself! No one believes me but it ordered some chrome parts for my spacecraft, which I had to keep and look cool. Now I’m going to use the software to see if I can fill out some meta-tags.
Postscript: Naturally Speaking’s propensity to access menu buttons can make it very difficult to compose a “self referential” article on WordPress or blogging features since Naturally Speaking leaps out of the writing interface and goes to commands beginning with words like “WordPress.”
* Wikipedia article “Words Per Minute” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Words_per_minute