A New Dragon Emerges
Nuance Communications in early August unveiled Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10, the latest version of its popular dictation software. The new version allows users to not only dictate documents and email but also to search the Web, fill in forms, and control their PCs and their many applications entirely by voice.
Dragon 10 is faster and more accurate than the previous release, according to Peter Mahoney, vice president and general manager of desktop dictation products at Nuance. "Not only did we increase accuracy by 20 percent, but the speed with which things show up on screen by a factor of two," he says.
Dragon 10 captures up to 160 words per minute (compared to the 35 words per minute average typing speed) and "can deliver accuracy up to 99 percent, while never making a spelling mistake," Mahoney adds.
New features contained in Dragon 10 include the following:
Voice control is offered for some popular applications, including the Microsoft Office suite, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Corel WordPerfect, popular instant message clients such as AOL Instant Messenger, and most other Windows-based applications.
Dragon Voice Shortcuts collapses common multistep tasks into direct voice commands for sending email, scheduling meetings, searching the Web, or controlling an application. For example, when a user asks his computer to send an email to a specific person, Dragon opens the email program, creates a new email document, and puts the appropriate contact names into the address box. When he asks it to search the Web for a specific piece of information, Dragon opens the default search engine and Web browser and enters the spoken words in the search field. This function supports most Web search engines, including Google and Yahoo!, as well as other sites like eBay, Wikipedia, and YouTube.
Quick Voice Formatting commands allow users to issue a single voice command to format text within a document. In Microsoft Word, for example, a user can say Make that bigger, and the font size increases instantly.
Another new feature of the software is an acoustic regional accent module that automatically adjusts to support several speaking styles. Within the English version of Dragon 10, supported regional accents include those from the United Kingdom, India, Australia, Southeast Asia, and the U.S. Southwest and Midwest. "When you enroll with the system, you train it, [then] it does an adaptation and picks the accent model most appropriate for you," Mahoney explains.
Dragon 10 also supports Spanish, French, Dutch, and Italian. Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 is available in Standard, Preferred, and Professional editions. Within the specialized versions for key industry verticals, Nuance has added some industry-specific features as well. The Professional version, for example, supports sophisticated macros for automating document-intensive business tasks and offers complete enterprise network support, including new security features, a special management guide for information technology professionals, and support for Citrix deployments.
The Dragon Voice Shortcuts in the Preferred version offer the added ability to create custom commands to insert blocks of text or images with a single utterance. The Legal version offers a preconfigured legal vocabulary that includes more than 30,000 legal-specific terms and phrases. It also enables users to create custom voice commands to build and format templates for contracts or other legal documents. Dragon Medical enables healthcare practitioners to dictate directly into any Windows- or Citrix-based electronic medical record system, including those from Allscripts, Epic, Misys, GE Healthcare, NextGen, Siemens, eClinicalWorks, Meditech, McKesson, Cerner, and Eclipsys. It also includes 75 medical vocabularies and enhanced medical formatting.
More than 70,000 healthcare providers were already using version 9 of Dragon NaturallySpeaking, and "many thousands have already jumped on board with version 10," Mahoney says. "We started shipping right away."
Nuance is also offering a special Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 edition bundled with a Plantronics Calisto Bluetooth headset that allows users to dictate and speak to their computers from as far as 30 feet away.