Does Dragon really work?

Does Dragon really work?

Many people may have tried Dragon in the past and had a less than rewarding experience with it, and given up as a result. My own experience over the last twenty years has been to see it improve beyond all recognition! I use it myself all the time now, partly to keep my hand in for training purposes, and partly because it saves me so much time! However, I recognise that many people thinking of trying it now may have heard of a bad experience from a friend or work colleague, and will ask themselves “does Dragon really work?”.

It looks like there will be some tremendous advances in the near future, making voice recognition even better!

I have just been reading an interesting article written by Vlad Sejnoha, the chief technology officer for Nuance Communications, and he is writing about the age of intelligent computer systems, beyond simple voice recognition.

He states that there have been some remarkable advances in the field of voice recognition and natural language understanding (NLU), or how Dragon understands what you are saying.

The pace of innovation is quickening with virtual assistants such as Siri evolving into intelligent systems. He sees the accuracy of voice recognition continuing to improve because of a combination of things including the use of  a complex modelling approach, including a technique that is currently popular loosely based on theories of how the brain performs pattern recognition. This is called deep belief networks.

Devices will be more able to discriminate against background noise, particularly in city streets and in cars, and the device will be more aware of the user and implied context of what is being said.

It will no longer be necessary to pick a device up and turn it on before use. The device can be woken from sleep mode by natural voice commands, will then interpret those commands, and act upon them.

Natural language processing will be smarter with integration with AI, and you will be able to say something like “check if John and Amy can come for dinner tomorrow night”. Your mobile assistant will then confirm restaurant availability, determine which John and Amy you mean from your contacts, contact their mobile assistants to check their dairies, make the reservation and compose an email to them with the relevant information!

If it is working in all these ways, it make sense to suggest that it will work on a computer because that is the platform where a lot of development has taken place!

Can it really help business people?

Yes, I believe it can and use it myself, although it may depend on the type of work that you do. It is very well suited for use in Microsoft Word and Outlook. Most people would expect to complete their paperwork at least three times faster using Dragon.

Is it very accurate?

Yes, I type at 120 words a minute with my voice.

Is it difficult to learn?

No, but this very much depends upon what you want to achieve – you can control your computer with voice commands (and it doesn’t usually answer back!)

What happens if I have an accent?

It may take a while longer to get used to how you speak, but there is no reason it shouldn’t work. It sounds a bit silly to say it, but part of the problem is how to adjust the background settings to help the software recognise an accent, and part is knowing how to speak to it! I have done a lot of work with people from Yorkshire and I always joked with them about their accents, which I love, but they would say something like “I’m going ‘t shops” and Dragon cannot possibly understand this immediately!

Keep checking back here because I will shortly post some tips on how to get the best out of your Dragon!

How is it used on a computer?

Typically to dictate text into Microsoft Word, into emails, and to search the Internet. Dragon can be used just for dictating text, or if you prefer to control your computer by voice. Some of the tasks that can be controlled with voice commands are also much faster than typing!

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