My computer doesn’t understand me (sob!)

Back in the distant past of the late 90’s, I experimented with using voice dictation software. This was meant to be the next great thing – imagine, dictating directly to the computer, just print out and you’re done. No need for secretaries, cut down on your overheads and your away. Simples!

Except, of course, it wasn’t. The act of talking s..l..o..w..ley and clearly was tiresome. Correcting all the misspelling and gobbleygook took forever and by the time you had something anywhere ready to send out as a letter, the day had gone and you wondered why you bothered. Needles to say the experiment was soon abandoned.

Interestingly, with the advent of the Iphone, there are a number of voice activation packages which I have been trying, together with the phone’s own built-in software. What is apparent is that after all these years, I can’t see a major improvement to the results.

The three apps I have been playing with are:
Dragon Dictate Interestingly, this is the same software that I used in the 90’s now upgraded for the iphone. I must confess that I had limited success with this and one of its drawbacks, apart from its accuracy (or lack of) is the requirement to copy and paste the final message into your text or email application. All time-consuming.

Vlingo I had more success with this and, as with most of these apps, the more you use it the better they get. The nice touch about this app is that by giving the command “email” the programme enters the dictation directly into the email application without the need to copy and paste. The accuracy is not bad and I shall persevere with this.

Dial2Do This is not an Iphone application as such but a hands free aid to use when driving. The web site enables you to set up your contacts (you can import these from Google mail, Outlook etc) and configure the services you want to use. You can set up email, twitter and text plus a few others so by dialing Dial2Do and saying “text” or “email” for example, you can dictate a message which is sent without any further intervention. Depending on your phone connection at the time, the accuracy is not bad and its very useful for those occasions when you remember something you should have sent just as you have left the office.

There was a wonderful moment in one of the original Star Trek films when our intrepid heroes travelled back in time to 1980’s San Francisco (as one does) and Scotty was trying to work on a 1980’s PC by talking to it. He was quite dismissive when it was pointed out that he had to use a keyboard and mouse.

With the advancements in all things IT, it is interesting that voice activation is not quite there yet – in the end, in this instance, the old ways are often the best.

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