TERRIBLE, just terrible. On the best of days, I was just awful as a typist. Most days I was terrible. Unfortunately, I worked in a hospital setting and also a private office setting. I was required to either type my notes or to handwrite my notes. My colleagues at the hospital gave me the "Worst Handwriting On Staff" award for two years in a row. As a result, I ultimately began to use my laptop for all of my notes and gave up handwriting. The amount of time necessary to type my notes took away from some of my free time. And then something happened.
Around 10 years ago I began to hear about this program called "Dragon Naturally Speaking Professional " that would allow me to speak into my computer. I did some searching and was able to track down a local provider who came to my office with a demonstration copy and had me sit in my office and read specialized passages into my computer with a supplied headset microphone for over half an hour. Reading passages was necessary to train and establish what the developers called "user files." ( More to come about user files in a future article) At the end of training I began to dictate into Microsoft Word. I was blown away! I was actually talking to my computer and the words were appearing on the screen. When mistakes occurred (and they commonly did in those days) I was able to use a command that would allow me to correct the problem. I was sold. Although expensive, with a cost of over $700, I bought the Dragon program the same day I saw the demonstration.
At the time I began using Dragon I also was using an early version of an electronic medical record. It was very cool to be able to speak into my computer with the supplied headset and then begin to dictate into a chart. With time, my accuracy increased to over 94%. What an amazing feat! However, 94% meant six mistakes per hundred words. Multiply that by eight hours and I was spending too much time making corrections. I needed and wanted greater recognition accuracy. Over the years, new updated versions of Dragon began to arrive. With each new version , the accuracy increased. I loved the fact that each version allowed me to see a notable improvement in the accuracy. (Now, I am running right around 98% accuracy.)
In several future articles I’ll explain with additional details about how speech recognition can be useful for many people. I"ll tell you about some of my favorite tools for use with speech recognition programs, how to increase accuracy and how to set up the computer for speech. Also, hang on for the fun part while we test slate and laptop tablets to see how well they play with the Dragon. Maybe if I beg hard they will order or borrow microphones for me to try out that may be relevant for tablets.
Many people try speech recognition and then give up quickly. Others will think it is not that useful or that it does not work well. Some will stick with it and learn about the amazing benefits of speech recognition. I hope I can give you at least several reasons to seriously consider using speech recognition. Keep looking for the upcoming articles. Hey, I am just an average computer guy. But if I can get 98% accuracy what could some of you get? 99-100%?
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