Speech recognition software is of tremendous value to many end users, including those with physical disabilities or injuries that make it difficult or impossible to use a keyboard and mouse. If nothing else, most people can speak much faster than they type, which makes speech recognition a great tool to get words into a document.
Nuance Communications' Dragon NaturallySpeaking is the company's flagship voice recognition product for PCs. Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 Professional, released late last year, is the newest version. Here's a closer look at this speech recognition software, its new features and how they could benefit your business.
What's New in Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12
According to Nuance, Dragon 12 is 20 percent more accurate out of the box compared to version 11, with more natural text-to-speech reading. Moreover, performance has improved thanks to support for computers with multiple cores.
Usability improvements include additional personalization options. For example, you can set Dragon 12 to require users to say "click" to denote a user interface action. Individual users who don't like this feature can disable it.
In addition, Dragon 12 now works with common applications and devices. For starters, it comes with full text control and commands for WebMail services such as Gmail and Hotmail. It also recognizes the most frequent commands for the Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome browsers. Posting updates to Facebook or Twitter with simple voice commands is supported, too. Finally, the free Dragon Remote Microphone app is available to users with an iOS or Android device.
In all, Nuance touts more than 100 new features, improvements and enhancements in Dragon 12.
Comparing Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 Editions
I evaluated the Professional edition (599.99) of Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Along with the voice-recognition improvements and overall enhancements listed above, this version comes with various features not found in the Home ($99.99) or Premium ($199.99) editions. You can see a full breakdown of the differences here.
The Professional edition supports profile administrative capabilities geared towards enterprise deployments; it will also function over Remote Desktop Connection from a local Windows computer on which Dragon is not installed.
Individual power users, though, will be more interested in its capability to create custom commands to automate frequent or repetitive tasks. The toolset includes Macro Recorder, VBA-style scripting or the organizing of custom commands in custom groups. Most importantly, Dragon Professional comes with transcription tools such as an auto-transcribe folder agent capable of performing transcription in the background. (More on this later.)
Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 Installation and Initial Setup
On the hardware front, Nuance recommends a PC equipped with 2GB of RAM and a 2.2 GHz Intel dual core processor. A minimum of a 1GHz Intel Pentium or 1.66 GHz Intel Atom processor is required; the installation software will not install if the minimum requirements are not met. The specifications are probably not an issue with newer laptops-just don't expect to use it on a first-generation netbook or 5-year-old laptop.
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