Dragon Dictation – What a great little App

In La Bisbal I did a test of speech to text recognition with Dragon Dictation

I got called out on an errand today. My wife missed the bus she had to get to be able to get back home in time for me to take her to La Bisbal which is in Baix Emporda, Catalonia. Very important trip to the tax office to have the taxes sorted out for the year. An appointment had been made so we had to get there on time. You know what it is like if you miss your slot in these bureaucracy filled places. So I had to jump in the car with a sandwich in my hand to pick her up in Girona and do the taxi service thing.

As it turned out, we got there in plenty of time and I hasten to add that I do not break the speed limit. That left time to give the dog a walk by the river in La Bisbal, (My puppy always like s trip out anywhere.) and to have a sit down at a cake shop to drink some Horchata and eat some cake that is typical of the town. While my wife went off to do the taxes I was able to try out Dragon Dictation. I was sat outside the cafe seeing as I had the dog with me and unfortunately it was noisy. there was a workman running a machine with a loud engine.

Despite the noise, or because of the noise I thought it would be a great chance to try out Dragon and see how much it would be affected by the noise. I connected up the headset off my iPhone on to the iPad so that I would be able to use the microphone on it rather than the one on the iPad. Dragon Dictation recommends that you speak close to the microphone and I was able to have the mic on the headset close to my mouth and still see what was going on on the screen of the iPad. If I had been using the mic on the iPad it would have been hard to see the screen at the same time as talking in to it. Not that much to see anyway because it has a very simple interface. In any case I was able to do some speech to text iPad style.

In the centre of the screen there is a button which says simply Tap and dictate On the left side there is a list of notes. I only had one in the list, the one I was starting with. In the top right corner there is a Plus button, a trash can button and another that has an arrow pointing to a horizontal thing that might represent paper maybe. Hit that button to see icons for Email, Cut, Copy, Facebook, Twitter and one for settings. I tried the Facebook button, filled in the username and password and it didn’t work. I tried twice and although it should have seeing as it was only a small bit of text, it may have been due to the fact I was connected to the internet with a MiFi. I like the MiFi but I would be tempted to get the next iPad with 3G.

From the button Settings you can set the language, English (United Kingdom) for me. Recognise names from my address book which I had allowed when I opened the app the first time. Detect End-of-Speech is off. I could also reset enrolment Is I so desired. Social Networking lets you add a twitter account and your Facebook account. I just tried to post to Facebook connected to my WiFi at home and it worked a treat! When it was posted I was unable to see what I had just dictated, the list of notes was empty again. It would be good to be able to go back and add more if I wanted to.

How Good is the Dictation Software at Speech to Text Recognition.

In Las Bisbal with the noisy environment I was stunned with how good it was at iPad speech to text. there were some words that it had not got right but I was till impressed. I was able to hit the button that appeared at the bottom of the screen to bring up the keyboard and alter the incorrect words. I sent that text out as an email when it didn’t work.

This evening back at base in a quiet room, Dragon did the job very close to perfect. It put in iPod when I said iPad, but everything else was spot on. You can say “Full Stop” , “Comma” and other punctuation marks too. Excellent speech to text recognition. At the bottom right there is a button to tap to get help to get you started with Dragon. Very sparse information, but it didn’t need more as it was so easy to use.

After you have finished speaking you get a screen with all the words separated into sort of blue buttons. Hit one of them and you are offered a choice of alternative words and a delete button. I have found that the note will stay there for me to add more text by hitting the record button at the top of the screen. The note only goes away when you send it out as email, FaceBook or Twitter.

Dragon is totally brilliant and even better still is the fact that it is free. It is a universal application so I have it on the iPhone too. I only have the 3G so the processing takes longer. otherwise as good with speech to text recognition as the iPad version. I wonder if I could now find something that will do iPad text to speech to listen back to what I have dictated and edited. I am sure there must be some text to speech ipad applications.