If you have difficulty using a standard keyboard and mouse on your computer, due to repetitive strain injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, or other disability, speech recognition (or voice recognition – the terms are largely interchangeable) is a viable alternative to using your hands to control your computer.
Speech recognition has come a long way in recent years, and now boasts very high accuracy and speaker independence so that very little voice training is required.
If you’re interested in exploring the possibilities of speech recognition technology, check out the links below, as well as the list of available speech recognition programs in the following section:
- Computing Out Loud – This site is intended to help people using speech recognition software, and is brought to you by Susan Fulton, a longtime user of speech recognition and assorted gadgets for easier, less painful computing. Lots of solid information here.
- Speech Recognition FAQ – This FAQ covers speech recognition systems and related topics, and provides links to additional information.
- Speech Recognition Wiki – A community speech recognition site, with an emphasis on Dragon NaturallySpeaking 7.3/8 and Microsoft Speech Recognition
- The Case for Speech Recognition – An article discussing the current state of speech recognition technology, and why it may be a good idea for you.
- Wikipedia: Speech Recognition – A free encyclopedia article discussing the technology of speech recognition.
Speech Recognition Software
- Dragon NaturallySpeaking
Dragon NaturallySpeaking is the most accurate speech recognition product ever developed – delivering up to 99-percent accuracy! No other product delivers the power, accuracy, and ease-of-use that make Dragon NaturallySpeaking the ideal solution for the PC enthusiast or home office user! Talk to your computer and your words instantly and accurately appear in Microsoft Word and Excel, Corel WordPerfect, and virtually all Windows-based applications. Listen to incoming e-mail and documents read aloud. Search the Web by speaking URLs and links. Use dictation shortcuts that enable you to insert blocks of texts or bitmaps – such as your name, title, and signature – with a single voice command. Dictate directly into a PC or any approved handheld digital recorder. A noise-canceling microphone is included.
Work faster and more productively by voice! The system replaces slow and tedious typing with the simplicity of using your voice to turn speech into text at up to 160 words per minute. Create e-mail, instant messages, documents and spreadsheets more than 3 times faster than typing. Plus, you can use your voice to start programs, use menus and surf the web on your PC.
IBM ViaVoice is a feature-rich voice recognition product designed for experienced PC users. Supports dictation and correction into SpeakPad and supported applications within Microsoft Office, and direct dictation into a host of other PC applications. Also includes cross-application use of customized macros, and support for selected digital handheld recorders. On the Internet, dynamic navigation of the Web allows ViaVoice users to access Web sites merely by speaking the link name, while navigating to bookmarks with a simple voice command. Natural Language Commands and Voice Navigation macros provide Command and Control to navigate within the supported operating system and within many popular Windows applications.
- Email and Web navigation–use your voice to create, manage, and send email, chat on the Internet, command your browser, launch URLs, and surf the Web.
- Noise-canceling headset microphone included.
- Transcription support for digital handheld recorders.
- A new IBM speech engine with improved background noise adaptation, first used in the IBM ViaVoice for Windows product line in the Release 10 portfolio, can result in greater dictation and voice command accuracy.
- User control of background noise sensitivity for easier adjustment to your environment.
- Command and control IBM ViaVoice, your desktop, and PC applications with your voice–just say the command name to activate menu options, lists, and buttons.
- Customized “voice shortcut” commands can now be used in multiple PC programs.
- Dictate, edit, and format easily in IBM ViaVoice SpeakPad; Microsoft Office XP, 2000, and 97; Outlook; Internet Explorer; AOL and Netscape Messenger; and email applications.
- Direct dictation in a variety of PC applications.
- Over 300,000 vocabulary and backup dictionary words.
- Add customized addresses, names, acronyms, terms, and colloquialisms to the vocabulary.
- Say-Now Voice and Speech Recognition
Say-Now is a comprehensive voice and speech recognition program to use your voice for command & control of your computer and dictation. Reduce or eliminate mouse clicks or keyboard input. Open Web sites, documents, or programs using your voice. Perform navigation and editing functions simply by speaking. Dictate letters, memos, and email messages. Begin talking to your PC now using your voice. Say-Now voice features a rich set of predefined voice commands and is based on the latest speech technologies from Microsoft. Import hundreds of commands for Microsoft Office and other Windows programs and games. Create your own commands for the software that you use. The program includes synthesized speech prompts and audio feedback. A variety of graphic application skins and options let you customize your Say-Now voice experience. Say-Now voice includes integrated text-to-speech capabilities enabling the computer to have a voice to read websites, documents, and email messages to you.
- VR Commander
VR Commander is a sophisticated voice command and control program that adds a voice interface to virtually any windows based application. At its core is an industry leading Continuous Speech, Command and Control Voice Recognition Engine. It even supports Bluetooth microphones! VR Commander’s main uses are for command and control of: Games and Simulators, CAD Applications, and Business Applications like PowerPoint or Outlook. VR Commander enjoys several unique features:
- Incredible voice recognition accuracy – The same technology as used on fighter aircraft!
- Speaker Independent – No voice training required
- Noise rejection technology built in – Works in noisy environments – even supports bluetooth headsets
- Integrates with VoIP chat programs – Toggle between VoIP and issuing commands – use your VoIP headset
- Unique Template approach for applications – Easy to create, manage and share with others
- Use Voice Commands to simulate keystrokes to control your application
- Launch any file, macro or program from within an application using voice commands
- Insert text strings of any size into applications using voice commands – Great for repetitive tasks, instant messaging or email
- Intuitive operation – Get up and running fast! A tutorial will make you an expert in minutes. Context sensitive help and mouse over user tips are all you need.
- Lightning fast response time which allows VR Commander to respond as quickly as you can speak a command.
- Non-Intrusive so that VR Commander does not get in the way of the application or playing the game with an annoying complex menus system.
- VR Commander is speaker independent which means no user training is required for it to recognize your voice commands.