Nuance: 'What Are You Talking About?'

BURLINGTON, Mass. -- Users of Nuance Communication’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking application encompass a range of people, including novelists, doctors, and people with disabilities. To acknowledge the application’s versatility and celebrate its 10th anniversary, Nuance launched its first Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking “What are You Talking About?” contest this year. The contest’s three winners were announced yesterday. One person won from each of the three categories: Most Creative Use, Greatest Productivity Gain, and Greatest Personal Impact.

The contest resulted from a bevy of personal correspondence sent to the company from users over the years. “It’s one of our faster growing applications, and the broad use of the product has generated a lot of spontaneous stories that people have sent into us over the past couple of years,” says Robert Weideman, senior vice president and general manager of Nuance Productivity Applications. “We figured we would formalize it and encourage people to enter a contest.”
The contest received almost 1,000 entries from a broad spectrum of users. Judges  consisted of a panel of Nuance employees who have been with the Dragon product since its release 10 years ago, as well as people working with the company’s customer base through its VAR community.
Fly fisherman Len Checchio won the Most Creative Use category for his use of the application to log journal entries about fishing expeditions to his PC. Checchio previously transcribed his journal, which he has kept for 30 years, by hand. The award for Greatest Personal Impact was given to bank vice president Rett Erickson. Erickson, who is a quadriplegic, could type only 12 to 15 words per minute with the use of a mouth stick, but regained productivity by using dictation and the application to finish his work. Finally, Greatest Productivity Gain was awarded to Peter Laipson, a secondary school history teacher who applied the product when grading student papers. In his entry submission, Laipson says the application allowed him to cut down on time spent grading by 40 percent.
Weideman claims this final category, often applied to professionals, represents the application’s fastest-growing customer base. This widening of Dragon’s customer base is reflected in the product’s sales figures, which he claims have increased by more than 30 percent over the last couple years.
“People are so pressed for time and the business environment has gotten so fast-paced,” he says. “Professionals are looking for tools that can help them get more work done in less time or to excel more in their job. That type of use case we never saw three years ago.”
Though no plans are concrete, Weideman says the company would like to make the contest a yearly event.

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