by April 9, 2000 0 comments

Dragon Naturally Speaking Preferred Version 4 

Speech recognition software. Rs 17,995
Features: Large vocabulary base; compatibility with Windows applications; can select parts of the text and edit it using voice commands; natural language commands.
Pros: Comes with a special version of English for the Indian subcontinent; high accuracy; good speed.
Cons: None.
Source: HCL Infosystems
E-4, 5, & 6, Sector 11
Noida 201301
Uttar Pradesh. 
Tel: 120-4526518/9 
Fax: 4533877 
E-mail: satinder@hclinsol.com 

Naturally Speaking can be very useful for publishing houses,
media companies, etc, where a lot of typing work is done. Instead of typing, you
can dictate your matter to the software, and it’ll convert it into text. You
can also use it to run your PC without using the keyboard or mouse, as it
understands most Windows commands.

A complete installation of Naturally Speaking takes up to 187
MB of hard disk space. You can choose from four different versions of English
during installation–US English, British English, English for the Indian
subcontinent or for South-East Asia. However, you can’t switch between
versions without reinstalling the package. Once installed, a wizard takes you
through getting the software ready for speech recognition. Here, it adjusts your
microphone’s sensitivity, does general training, etc.

Naturally Speaking can be used to take dictation as well as
voice commands from you. So, you can, for example, use it to open an application
like MS Word and dictate a letter to it; or open your e-mail program and reply
to an e-mail message.

The software must be trained for your voice for more
effective voice recognition. Plus, you must also learn the words needed to run
Windows without using a keyboard or mouse. The accompanying manual gives a list
of commands. Training the software to recognize your voice perfectly is a
half-an-hour’s job, where the software displays text on the screen that you
have to read out into the microphone. Once this is done, the software is ready
for action.

Speech recognition can be done in two ways. You can directly
dictate to it, or create a recording and have it converted to text later. The
software accepts WAV files recorded in PCM 11,025 16-bit mono format. The sound
recorder in Win 9x can record files in this format for you, or you could use the
sound recorder that comes with the program itself.

The general training makes you read some basic text to get started with the package. However, you have to take it through half-an-hour of extensive training for more accurate speech recognitionNaturally
Speaking has lots of options to process the data that you’re speaking on the
fly. For example, you can undo a spoken word by saying “Scratch that”.
You can tell it to select a particular phrase and then delete it, etc. It also
has the ability to play back your speech on the interface itself, so that you
can correct it. It skips words that have been modified by keyboard, so that you
don’t have to correct them again.

Being a continuous speech recognition software, it can
recognize what you’re saying quite accurately, even if you talk at your normal
pace. Naturally Speaking has an extensive active vocabulary of more than 160,000
words, which contributes to its accuracy.

Naturally Speaking is compatible with Windows applications
like Word 97 and 2000, Access and Excel. You can also surf the Web with it,
using IE 4 and above. It didn’t work as accurately in this, particularly due
to the nature of Website names, for example, Yahoo.com, Nazara.com, etc.
Overall, it’s a very useful software.

Ankur Saxena
at PCQ Labs

 

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