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voice recognition software

Just how bad is voice recognition software?

Well, my own recent experience is as follows: Having finally upgraded my
ancient 486 to a hotrod Pentium II 450 (w/128megs) I thought I would give
it a try.

I purchased the new Smart Suite (Millennium) edition with IBM's via-voice
integrated package. (Both WordPro and 1,2,3 come with via-voice
capability.) The entire package is available from Indelible Blue (the
source of my OS/2 software) for $79 (academic discount).

The good news is that WordPro comes with a filter for XyWrite. When I save
to XyWrite 4 format, it includes a lot of completely unnecessary
formatting codes, but these can be easily eliminated.

The bad news (and it's not all that bad) is that the "enrollment"
procedure is very time consuming. In order to get this thing to work at
all I had to devote about an hour and a half reading text to the machine.
(And several more hours on top of this are required for any decent level
of recognition.) Also, you should be prepared to spend a LOT of time
teaching your program specialized vocabulary. Background noise is also a
serious problem. I find that my results are horrible if the room is not
completely quiet.

However, if you are willing to do this, the results are... well....OK (I
guess). I would estimate about an 80% success rate by which I mean ON
AVERAGE I think the program gets about eight out of ten words right.
Usually what happens, though, is that it will accurately transcribe
three or four sentences, and then it just falls apart for a sentence.

I purchased this program in the hope that I could dictate (rather than
type) some of the hundreds of pages of hand-written notes that I have
lying around. For now, though, it is faster to just type them. I'll keep
"traing" via-voice, hoping to get achieve a higher level of accuracy.

Phil Ferreira
Dept. of Philosophy
Kutztown University