TECHNOLOGY IN PRACTICE. WHAT WORKS? WHO GETS IT?
Product Watch Blame It on Siri: Reconsidering Dragon NaturallySpeaking
By George E. Leloudis
O KAY, YOU HAVE TO ADMIT Siri is pretty cool. My kids and I have spent numerous hours having silly conversations with the woman who lives inside my
iPhone. These conversations made me think, “Wow, voice recognition has really improved since I gave it any serious thought!”
So for this issue’s column I decided to kick the tires of the latest
version of Nuance’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking, which is probably the most recognizable voice recognition software title on
the market. My end goal was to determine if the product could
enhance my efficiency and boost my productivity.
OUT OF THE BOX
If you are like me, it’s difficult to find the time to embrace new
ways of doing things. Even if I know something will benefit me
in the long term, I struggle to slow down long enough to truly
learn how to use it. With voice recognition software, I’ve heard
how cool it is and how some folks have really been able to put it
to good use. Out of curiosity I had tried a much earlier version
of Dragon NaturallySpeaking and, more recently, various iPhone
apps. For many reasons, time included, but more importantly,
shortcomings in the programs, I’ve never really seen how the
products would improve my efficiency or make my life easier. So
I went into this review with some skepticism.
I purchased the Premium Edition of Version 12, which retails for
$199.99, although I was able to pick it up at one of the big-box office
supplies retailers for $99.99. I chose the Premium Edition over the
less-expensive Home Edition because the latter does not support
wireless dictation or voice commands for Excel and PowerPoint. The
Premium Edition also supports enhanced administration, including
the importation of custom word lists. If you are purchasing the soft-
ware for multiple users, the Professional and Legal Editions deliver
additional administrative and security tools for managing and cus-
tomizing multiple network installations. The Legal Edition touts
a special language model that Nuance claims will help to achieve
“optimal out-of-the-box accuracy when dictating legal terms” and
the ability to automatically format legal citations.
I WAS SURPRISED THAT,
EVEN WITH THE HIGHWAY
NOISE IN THE BACKGROUND,
THE PROGRAM WAS
of online research regarding the product pointed to the value of
completing the initial training. My skepticism grew. The investment of significant up-front time to “train” or improve the accuracy of the software would diminish the likelihood of my full
implementation of the program.
To my surprise it took less time to read the training text and to
create my user profile than it did to install the software. During this
process, the program asked me to identify my age group, the region
in which I lived and my accent, all to help improve the software’s
accuracy. To personalize its vocabulary, the software searched
through my sent email and the My Documents folder. After installation and training, the program presented an interactive tutorial.
In a matter of 30 minutes I was up and running. The big question at