July 26, 2012

Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 Arrives In August

Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

The fictional Dr. Dolittle could talk to the animals, but those who want to “talk” to their computer can do so with the help of the Dragon — as in Nuance´s Dragon NaturallySpeaking software, which for the record this reporter relied on earlier this year.

Nuance has taken its voice recognition technology to the mobile space, including iOS and Android, but this week announced the release of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12, the latest entry in what remains the de facto standard for talking to the computer. The company claims the new version, which will be available in mid-August for $99.99 for the Home Edition and $199.99 for the Premium Edition, will be 20 percent more accurate, which is impressive given that the 11.5 version was already quite accurate.

Reports online suggest this could make the software nearly 100 percent accurate with common words — but that should be taken with a  grain of salt, given that dotcom companies tend to create new names, while personal names are always tricky. Even with these issues, the accuracy of the new version will likely surprise those who have talked with the Dragon in a while.

“People may have tried Dragon five, six, or seven editions ago, and they didn´t get the accuracy they expected, and they´re left with the impression that it doesn´t work,” Nuance Product Marketing Manager Erica Hill told ArsTechnica.com.

Beyond the accuracy, Nuance has added about 100 new features to NaturallySpeaking, with the goal to make the program easier to use. These new features include new voice commands, greater customization options and new help menus.

One standout feature will allow NaturallySpeaking users the option to turn off the capability to write and publish tweets. For those not using Twitter this could be a good thing, as the tweet mode could easily be enabled.

Of course Dragon NaturallySpeaking is about voice recognition and thus is more than just a dictation program. This means that it can be used as a navigation aid, and it can be used to navigate applications and browser windows. The new version offers greater control. Surfing the web and sending email has also been streamlined. The new version also promises better integration with Gmail and Hotmail, while the add-on works with Internet Explorer 9, Firefox 12, Chrome 16 or higher.

Users of the new version will also be a little less tethered to their computers, at least with the Premium Edition, which will offer support for Bluetooth.

“NaturallySpeaking now supports 16kHz Bluetooth – that´s the wideband Bluetooth that gives you higher fidelity – and that will give you better speech recognition for Bluetooth devices,” said Hill “That 16kHz support will be available in the Premium Edition and above.”

Finally, training, which can take up to 15 minutes, is still recommended but as with previous versions reportedly can help ensure greater accuracy. Those who have tested the software so far report that editing the text using voice is still cumbersome and that for final editing a keyboard is still recommended, but that this version´s better accuracy certainly is helpful.

Dr. Dolittle could talk to the animals, but when using this program to talk to the Dragon, he´d likely need to ensure there weren´t any typos.