Voice Recognition Software – Does It Really Work?

Posted on October 23, 2013


ImageI once worked for an orthopedic surgeon who carried a dictaphone in his pocket at all times. Everyday, he would record all office notes and surgical reports on his dictaphone and the following day, I would listen to the dictations and type up all the reports to keep in our medical files.  However, he thought it was becoming too time-consuming and decided to try out some voice recognition software called Dragon. Dragon claims to be the best-selling speech recognition software in the world. It has the ability to listen to what you say and type it out for you on a program like Microsoft Word. At the time, I had no idea something like had even been invented. At first I thought it was the most amazing thing ever. It would save me so much time and I would be able to move on to other projects that needed more immediate attention. Then I realized nothing the doctor dictated was being typed properly. 

            Dragon didn’t know all of the medical terms he was saying; it misspelled or changed the words altogether. Nothing made sense. I had to go back and listen to the dictations and re-type everything. Nuance, the company that created Dragon, told us that with the corrections I was making, Dragon would understand the doctor better over time. We tried this process for two weeks. Rather than saving me time, it became time-consuming. We kept hoping Nuance was right, but it wasn’t.  A few months later, the doctor decided to give Dragon another shot because a few other doctors in the facility seemed to like it. He was my boss, so I couldn’t say no, but again, it didn’t work out for us.

Needless to say, I’m not a fan of voice recognition software. I’ve had an iPhone 5 for almost a year now, and an iPad for some time also, and Siri and I are simply not friends. She never understands what I’m saying! At first I thought, “Maybe it’s my Brooklyn accent?” I conducted some Internet research and a small survey amongst friends, and found that Siri may understand you better in time, but everyone seems to have the same difficulties I do. I wish our relationship did work out better, but after a year of trying, I feel as though it’s a lost cause.

While doing my research, I found an interesting fact. Siri was also invented by Nuance. I don’t want to bash Nuance, but after reading online reviews, I was glad to find out how many other people were having problems as well. I didn’t want to be the only one having troubles with Nuance. Dragon does give you the option to include an accent, but “New York” isn’t one of them.

Windows Vista now comes with speech recognition software built into the computer, and new computers have built-in microphones as well. Set-up time is about the same as Dragon, but most people are saying this system works much better. Windows Vista also allows you to control your PC by voice. If you ask me, this sounds better already, but does it speak “Brooklyn?” Reviews are pretty much the same; it turns out that you really do have to annunciate and articulate your words well if you want any voice recognition software to understand you. Windows’ program just appears to be easier to use for the most part.

I am considering trying the Windows Vista speech recognition software, but I am quite discouraged. Dragon claims to be “up to 99% accurate right out of the box…it’s that simple.” It’s really not. If I were to try this new software and it didn’t work, not only would I be wasting my time, but I’d be wasting my own money this time around, rather than just learning from my employer’s mistake.  Of course, these companies do offer your money back if returned within a limited timeframe. But if you’re really trying to let the speech recognition software recognize your voice, how much time is enough?  

Tamika Ureña, Writer and Editor, Asta Publications


Asta Publications has a long history of helping writers tell their stories and get published. Since 2004, Asta Publications has helped hundreds of authors bring their book concepts to life and we are ready to help you too! Our dedication to our authors is unmatched. We deliver first-class products and services that are accurate, high quality, and exceed our authors’ expectations.

Posted in: Publishing