Dragon’s latest speech recognition

Ever wanted a podcast transcription? Or maybe a transcription of a conference call? Well, speech recognition software is getting really good. Take a look at this post for the low-down on Nuance‘s Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9.

It worked better before I trained it than after. This suggests that the latest line from Nuance: "No training required" is true.

The blog post also talks about Voice Perfect, an Australian company which has a system which will transcribe and colour-code and time-stamp speakers’ contributions during a meeting. Even if they’re speaking at the same time. (Clue: a recording channel per speaker.)

8 thoughts on “Dragon’s latest speech recognition

  1. Hi there, I have just installed Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 9 Professional and so far I’m very happy with it. After a week or so I’m achieving 98 % accuracy. With the previous version (version 8), I was also achieving 98% so no great difference there but on the other hand I have achieved 98% with version 9 very early on so I will be interested to see if, over time, I can nudge it up to 99% or greater.
    Although the software is extremely accurate, the key to getting good results is to have a good computer specification and very importantly, to have a very clear sound input. With regard to the latter, I was recommend that users upgrade the microphone that is bundled with the product in favour of a more accurate microphone. Personally, I used a high end Sennheiser headset along with a USB sound adapter. The difference in accuracy between a commodity microphone and a superior accuracy, noise cancelling microphone can be significant. To decide if you need a USB adapter (basically a small external soundcard gadget costing around £40 Sterling), you just run a Windows sound recorder test (details of how to do this on my blog which is http://www.speechempoweredcomputing.co.uk/Newsletter). If the sound is crackly, it means that the internal soundcard is not creating a pure digital signal for the software if that is the case, obtaining a USB sound pod is a wise move.
    For really good accuracy, I was recommend adding as many custom words and phrases as you can in the “Vocabulary Editor” and I also recommend running “add words from your documents to the vocabulary” in the Accuracy Center. The latter not only adds new words to the vocabulary but adapts Dragon to your writing style. The combination of a good specification, the right sound input system and prodigious use the Vocabulary Editor and adding words from your documents and adapting to your writing style can really bump up the accuracy.
    I dictated this comment with Dragon NaturallySpeaking!
    Best regards
    Peter Maddern, North Wales, UK

  2. I forgot to mention something in my previous comment. If it’s of interest, I put a demonstration of Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 9 in Microsoft Word on my web site yesterday.
    It is at http://www.speechempoweredcomputing.co.uk. Just underneath the text saying “on-line demonstrations”, you will see a hyperlink with the title “Microsoft Word”. Click on the hyperlink and you will see a flash demo in your browser. As screencasts take up a bit of space, it may take a minute or so to load even on a broadband connection.
    All the best from the UK
    Peter

  3. Thank you for the advice and the links Peter. Out of interest, did you carry your previously trained files over to release 9 or start from scratch?
    You are clearly a dab hand at ‘dictation’, something we all have to learn to get the best results.
    I do not intend to diminish your clear success with the product (do watch the demo), I simply wish to warn people that, while results ‘out of the box’ are very good, they will improve over time.
    For the record, I used my Plantronics DSP 400 USB noise cancelling headset. It worked very well with Dragon NaturallySpeaking. And, because it folds up, it’s great for taking on the road and Skyping from my laptop.
    Any readers planning to visit Peter’s site need to know that it doesn’t display at all well in FireFox. MSIE is fine though.

  4. David, I created a brand new user file. I did this because I understand that this takes advantage of the improvements that the manufacturer typically introduces into the speech engine in a new release. Recommending this to an existing user who is a client of mine may cause that user frustration because they have taken a long time to train up a user file to the point that they are “happy” with it. If you recommend to that user that he or she should start again by creating a brand new user file, I can understand that they might be frustrated! However, creating a brand new user file is a very easy and relatively quick thing to do in real terms. You would export your custom words and phrases from the old version and export your custom commands, create a new user in the new version and train it by reading one or two enrollment texts (strictly speaking in the latest release, version 9, you don’t strictly have to read the enrollment texts but it is wise to do so to achieve high accuracy) and then re-import the custom words and phrases and commands. I always then have to hand a file which contains my “concatenated documents”. This is a single Word file with an amalgamation of old reports and e-mails etc. I run that through the new version to allow Dragon to adapt to my writing style.
    So despite the apparent “hassle factor” of having to create a brand new user, it’s not that much of the big deal and if I understand the experts correctly, doing this pays dividends in terms of accuracy.
    Many thanks for the “heads up” about my website not displaying correctly in Mozilla Firefox. Not something I’d realised would occur when I bought Microsoft FrontPage to create my site with. Mmmm….
    Best regards
    Peter, North Wales

  5. Thanks for the clarification Peter.
    On the browser stuff, I think it’s taken Microsoft a while to realise that the game is changing. I think most people prefer standards, interoperability and simplicity to flashiness and isolation.

  6. David, thanks again for pointing out the problems displaying my site in FireFox a few days ago. I’ve played around with it and managed to get the index page to display OK in FireFox. The only problem now is the link to the Microsoft Word demo doesn’t work in FireFox. It’s not displaying as a hyperlink even though it does in IE and is there in the source code in the FireFox page.
    I tried changing the name of the source file and it’s directory by using underscores but that didn’t work. Bottom line is the link to the demo has changed in the process and is now:-
    http://www.speechempoweredcomputing.co.uk/Microsoft_Word/Microsoft_Word_demonstration.html
    rather than the link in David’s post of 19th August.
    A lesson for me in all this is either to learn coding (but not enough time in my life right now) or re-do my site in Dreamweaver,
    Thanks
    Peter

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