Speech recognition software, designed to be used with a microphone, interprets spoken words to create text-style documents; it can also be used to carry out computer commands. Simply put, it substitutes voice entry for keyboard entry. This software can be a valuable tool in countless applications, and it is especially handy for college students, executives, translators, transcribers, and those with special needs.
This type of software requires complex coding algorithms, as differing speech patterns and idiosyncrasies make each person’s style of speaking unique. Foreign and regional accents, including various dialects, also affect the way words are spoken. Additionally, lazy enunciation can completely change the way words are sounded out. This presents a real challenge to speech recognition software, which relies on matching the varied potential sounds of a spoken word to its written counterpart.
For this reason it is necessary for each user to train speech recognition software to recognize his or her particular style of speech. Some software comes with a training program that includes specially chosen text the user must read into the program. Instructions might dictate that the user speaks in his or her normal voice. The program will translate the spoken words, and the user will correct any mistakes. The program learns from its mistakes, adjusting the translation accordingly.
The longer one person uses a particular speech recognition software program, the fewer mistakes it will make. Since it is oriented to the user, however, it will not work well for a secondary person. Each person who needs it will have to go through the training period, and some programs account for more than one user by having a login screen with the ability to keep more than one profile.
Single-user speech recognition software is often built into portable digital voice recorders. One can make verbal notes while en route to the office or a meeting, then export the notes as a textual file when convenient. The software can also be used with a digital voice recorder in meetings to take minutes, or to record the entire meeting for a hard copy that can be posted to the company’s Intranet, for example. Students can use it to record, translate, and archive class lectures for later reference.
Speech recognition software is also available for desktops and laptops. Its use in the workplace can cut down on repetitive stress injury and related employee downtime. It is an invaluable tool for professional translators and medical transcribers in addition to the average consumer. Household uses include dictating homework, personal journals, generating grocery, vacation or to-do lists, or outlining steps for do-it-yourself projects.
This software can also be used to carry out commands that would otherwise be input through a keyboard. This can be especially helpful for those with disabilities that make using a keyboard difficult.
Potential applications of speech recognition software are vast and varied. These programs vary in quality and design like any other software program, so it will be wise for consumers to research them before deciding which program(s) will suit an individual or a company’s needs best.