This blog post is different from any other blog post I have ever completed. Why? Well, because instead of typing this post, I am dictating it! My hands are off the keyboard, as I pick up a warm cup of coffee and tell you all about this not-so-new technology that I finally had a chance to try out for myself.
The first time I heard about Dragon Naturally Speaking, I was a teenager. My mom purchased a computer with a software bundle and this software was included. Out of the box the computer had major issues and was sent back immediately, so I never got to try out the Naturally Speaking Software. I heard great things and I heard not so great things, so when I found out they made a Mac version, I had to try it out for myself. I was anticipating a program that didn’t understand me correctly, and didn’t work as great as the company stated.
I received the box, complete with a headset and disk. Since I have a MacBook Air, I don’t actually have a CD drive. I should have realized this sooner! Luckily my dad had an external drive I was able to borrow and I was able to be set up in no time. It took about 5-10 minutes to train the program to understand me.
I was blown away by the accuracy and convenience of Dragon Dictate for Mac. I can’t say it’s PERFECT, but I know exactly what the issue is when it misinterprets things I say. I have a tendency to speak quick and swallow my words. When I slow down and speak clearly, my good friend Dragon picks up on everything I say. I’m still working on command words, but I’m sure with practice over time I will get into a good rhythm with this program.
I should also mention that I don’t use the headset that came with the program. I use whatever microphone software my Mac came with, so I don’t have anything attached to me. I believe this could be the issue with some discrepancies as well, since the mic is not close to my mouth and the program can mis-hear some words or phrases.
Another thing- I have two kids under 4. They are noisy, and they both call out “mom” any time they hear me conversing with someone (or something) else. You cannot use Dragon Dictate in this type of setting. The program is THAT good, that it will pick up everything it hears, so it is best to use it in a room where there will be no interference.
I keep in mind all the positives and negatives I have read about this program. I feel that the positives outweigh the negatives, and you really have to keep in mind that it is just a program and does not really understand your grammar, proper spelling, and possible accents. Personally, I’m very happy with the program and will continue using it as my “little helper.” It makes blog posts a breeze, even if I have to go back and manually correct some things. In my own experience I would give it about an 85-90% accuracy rate, probably even higher.
There are a few versions of Nuance Dragon Naturally Speaking, depending on your needs and type of computer. My daughter’s ENT even uses it in his office! I was surprised to see there was a professional version for doctors! He dictated his entire work-up and even printed a copy for us to take to her pediatrician. It was so quick and effortless on his part. As he was telling me the diagnosis, he was also dictating to his computer. It’s great to see doctors using Dragon programs to increase their productivity. For the student, blogger, or business person, Dragon Dictate is a great tool to speed up the typing process!