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What Are the Different Types of Speech Recognition Transcription Software?

By Angela Farrer
Updated May 16, 2024
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The different types of speech recognition transcription software are speech-to-text programs intended as substitutions for typing, voice recognition systems that replace the computer mouse or other input device, and speech translation software that will render spoken words in one language into written text in a second language. Voice-user interfaces can also be found in mobile and land-line phones to replace dialing numbers with a keypad. Speech recognition transcription programs are frequently used as a hands-free alternative that allows individuals with physical disabilities to use their desktop or laptop computers efficiently. Voice recognition systems also have various applications in medicine, law, and international business.

Computer speech recognition software is normally installed on a computer's hard drive like other types of software. Most of these speech-to-text programs have specific hardware requirements for the text to render with a high rate of accuracy. A desktop or laptop computer typically needs to have a high quality sound card and a minimum recommended amount of random access memory (RAM) installed before speech recognition transcription software can be effectively used without frequent word corrections. After one of these programs is installed with the proper hardware, new users typically need to spend time practicing with the program so that it can store specifics about their unique speech patterns.

Speech recognition software can also be designed specifically for hands-free computer use. This may sometimes be part of a speech-to-text software package or it may be a separate program in some cases. Once this is installed on a hard drive, users operate their computers by speaking certain recognized commands such as "Open X program" or "Go to X website" into a microphone. Just as with other types of speech recognition transcription software, users often first need to train this kind of program to recognize their voices.

An additional type of automatic speech recognition software is used specifically for foreign language translation. A phrase spoken into one of these programs can be played back in a second language much in the same way as with a traditional voice recorder. Business professionals who frequently travel to other countries sometimes use this type of speech recognition transcription software as a matter of convenience, because pressing deadlines do not always allow extra time for memorizing phrases in a second language. Speech recognition software also is used in professional fields such as court reporting and medical transcription, though it does not fully replace human transcribers.

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Discussion Comments
By anon302772 — On Nov 12, 2012

I think one of the biggest reasons that speech into text software has been so hard to use is that there is a big difference between speech and writing. Even if you are trying to speak in a way that translates well onto the page, the cadence and inflection of the human voice often does not mirror the punctuation that gets printed on the page.

By Amphibious54 — On Oct 09, 2011

@Alchemy- I had the same mindset as you when I first bought my speech recognition software, but now that I have it, it remains mostly unused. The software frustrated me to the point that I wanted to throw my mouse into my computer.

I use it for technical medical speaking, and the software jumbles almost everything I say. The software is about as accurate as the swype feature on some smartphones, and can lead to some interesting, and potentially embarrassing translations. I could not imagine the horror of using this software to write professional emails where tone is very important.

If you were a teenager who can decipher the worst text speech, then this software may serve a novel purpose, but if you expect accurate translations, you are out of luck. Maybe my expectations were too high.

By Comparables — On Oct 08, 2011

@Alchemy- I am not sure if you use a windows PC or a Mac computer, but if you are a windows Vista or 7 user, you have the software built into windows. The program is called windows speech recognition software, and it works just as well as the other software on the market.

I am not sure if the software is available on a Mac, but I would assume those machines would come with something similar pre-installed. I am not sure if the software is available on earlier versions of windows (think XP or 2000) either.

The software works well. I use it occasionally to dictate notes when I am working on complex issues. It is helpful in recording my thinking process and letting me reflect on the process in note form. At first, the software will miss a few words, but it seems fairly adaptive as it learns your speech patterns. It also takes a little getting used to, but it is a helpful tool. Save yourself a cool hundred and search for speech recognition in your start search bar.

By Alchemy — On Oct 07, 2011

How much are these speech to text transcription software programs? I am in school right now, and I do a lot of note taking and studying. This software sounds amazing, and I think it would help me study.

I could literally speak notes into my computer, while I am reading my text. I can articulate areas that I am having problems with better than I can write them, so this type of software would be very useful. After speaking my notes, I could go through and read my spoken notes during study sessions. I think I would learn the materials much better, especially in complicating subjects like chemistry and physics.

The possibilities of this software sound limitless to me. It is almost like having a personal secretary who will take notes for me, allowing me to be far more productive. Where can I find this software, and does it work as well as it sounds?

By whiteplane — On Oct 07, 2011

I have heard about various speech into text programs but I never knew that they could translate from one language to another. What a cool idea! I'm surprised I've never seen this technology in practice because it seems so practical. The language barrier is a huge obstacle to communication, but if there is an easy way to get past this why not embrace it more?

By chivebasil — On Oct 06, 2011

I think one of the biggest reasons that speech into text software has been so hard to use is that there is a big difference between speech and writing. Even if you are trying to speak in a way that translates well onto the page, the cadence and inflection of the human voice often does not mirror the punctuation that gets printed on the page.

Anyone who would like an example of this needs only to try out one of these programs. Within a few minutes you will see all that is wrong with it. The computer makes a lot of routine and frustrating mistakes, but it also misses cues which are not really anywhere in the speech, they are only in the mind of the speaker. So if this technology is going to move forward there is a big hurdle it needs to get over. How do you get inside the mind of the speaker so that there words make sense on the screen?

By summing — On Oct 06, 2011

I'm really hoping that this technology improves moving into the future. There have been promises of it for almost 15 years now, but in my experience all the previous voice recognition transcription softwares worked horribly. Not just badly but horribly. There was a big one released as part of Windows 7 just a few years ago and even that one was filled with bugs and next to unusable, so there is a lot of work left to be done.

Its such a good idea and it would improve everyone's productivity exponentially. It would also free up the hands for other kinds of work on the computer. Once this technology begins to work and is widely used I predict that it will change the way we think about and use computers. It will be an exciting time but I think it is still a long ways off.

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