It’s incredible how quickly technology changes. In fact, constant change is really the only characteristic of technology that you can count on. Digital technology never stays in one spot. It is constantly in a state of redevelopment and modification. We always try and make the tools we use better, more helpful, more efficient, and overall more accessible for everyone. Even the way we control our technology and interact with it changes frequently.
For instance, as I write this article, I have no keyboard or mouse. Nor am I in my office sitting at a desk. Instead, I'm in a public wireless Internet zone, using an iPad as a dictation tool. I simply speak into the microphone included on the iPad and it types everything that comes out of my mouth. It's a really neat technology if you've never tried it before. However, I did need to learn how to use it properly first.
Voice dictation is something that’s been around for a long time, relatively speaking. Some readers might recall a computer program called Dragon Naturally Speaking, which was a pioneer in voice recognition and dictation. In the early stages of Dragon, the user of the technology would spend hours and hours “training” the program to understand their voice.
Users would read passages out of a training manual, which slowly trained the program to understand that one particular user. However, when someone new wanted to use the same program, they too would need to complete this lengthy process. At best, once the program was fully set up, it did a decent job of recording the user’s voice in printed text, not great.
The difference now is staggering. Dragon is still available, along with several other voice dictation options, but now, “out of the box”, these tools are ready to go, no setup or “training” required. However, to be clear, there are assumptions about the users. For instance, in North America, our technologies normally require users to speak English. Someone with a heavy accent or speech impediment will likely have more difficulty using voice dictation technologies.
There are a few rules of thumb to using dictation technologies, like those available on iPad, Android tablets, and smart phones. First, the user must speak slowly with little or no emotion in their voice, almost as though you are imitating a robot voice. Also, users should speak clearly and annunciate their words, so the dictation tool can really hear the different parts to the word. This helps improve the accuracy of the dictation quite a bit. After you’ve tried this a few times, you’ll get the hang of it!
Whether you’re writing a lengthy email to a family member, taking notes at your retirement home’s resident council meeting, or recording your memoirs to share with your loved ones, new voice dictation technologies are making this chore super simple to accomplish.
It only gets easier from here!