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January 30, 2008

Superlative MacWorld '08 software product uses the Nuance speech recognition engine

Macspeechdictate Glenn Fleishman of Wi-Fi Net News fame is reporting that he was "suitably impressed" with the new MacSpeech Dictate (scroll down to Most Welcome Brain Transplant) speech recognition software demo'ed under the noisy conditions present at the recent MacWorld 08 Expo. Turns out, this "superlative product" uses the Nuance Communications engine which drives the Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9 software that the Windows users have been using for a while now. I was using it satisfactorily with 1.5 GB of RAM on my PC. It is amazing how you can get by with very little time spent training the software.

I would advise using more than 2 GB of RAM, since I did have problems dictating in memory intensive apps like MS Word. Plus, you really have to be careful with the cadence of your dictating, pronouncing each word consistently, and using complete phrases. If you don't, you'll find yourself constantly saying "scratch that," the command for "delete that nonsensical chatter I've been blathering." With a laptop, you might also have to invest in an external sound processor to make it work well.

The software tunes itself to your voice using the headset that comes with the software. Forget about thinking you can transcribe a recorded conversation between two people, although there are portable voice recorders that supposedly doing a good job of transcribing once you get back to your PC.

Pogue of the NY Times gives the background on the deal, along with the usual hammy video he's famous for. Now, if they could only get this to work with a smartphone.

The MacSpeech Dictate Web site.

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