Hello Computer

For many people, voice activated computers are still in the realms of science fiction. Actually such software has been around for years, but has only recently reached the levels of accuracy required to make it a really useful office tool. You have probably already encountered it without realizing, in the form of those irritating automated telephone menus. Voice recognition software is not just a novelty or gimmick, but a fast, efficient and useful way to operate your computer.

How It Works

Voice recognition software has a number of functions. It can be used to open and close programs, and navigate through the computer in the place of a mouse and/or keyboard. You initially have to train the software by creating a voice profile so that the computer can recognize your voice and speech patterns, and you have to be consistent. If you develop a cold or a frog in your throat you may find that the computer won't do anything you say! That aside, your wish is the computer's command.

Saying ‘Open January accounts' is much faster way of finding your files than laboriously clicking through your files trying to remember where you put it.

The second key use of the software is in dictation. Usually compatible with programs such as Microsoft Word, it can give you hands free rendition of whole bodies of text. However, as with most software, some products are better than others, so if at all possible try before you buy to make sure that it suits your particular needs.


With the convenience of course, comes a price. Voice recognition software takes time to set up and there is quite a steep learning curve. Not only do you have to train the computer, you may need to customize the various spoken commands so that the program works the way that is most comfortable for you. If you are working as a freelancer instead of just a telecommuter at home, you will have to consider the loss of income while you train the software as part of the product cost.

Voice Recognition To Be Standard?

The most popular version on the market today is the Dragon Naturally Speaking range, with the latest version around $200. However, Windows 7 and Windows Vista are now being sold with Windows Speech Recognition as standard, so if you are upgrading your computer you won't necessarily need to buy separate software. Once it is all set up, it is extremely easy to use. You may even find yourself neglecting your keyboard and mouse altogether in exchange for strolling round the office talking to your computer, and hitting it with the newspaper when it gets things wrong!

Faster Work

Since most people can speak faster than they can type you should find that you can work much faster than usual. Then you can edit your documents in Word in the usual way as necessary. The high end versions of this type of software report an average accuracy of 93% for dictation, which makes it an excellent alternative for people who are not professional typists. And of course it is wonderful for people who are disabled and have difficulty using a computer mouse or keyboard.

It is predicted that all computers will eventually run on voice recognition software, so you will have the added satisfaction of being someone ahead of the game.

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