Speech Luminary: Dictation Everywhere

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Not too long ago, people dismissed speech-to-text technologies as clunky software that was difficult to operate, not very accurate, and far from fun to use. Now dictation is among the most commonly downloaded applications to mobile devices, and everyone—from police officers, doctors, and lawyers to students and housewives—is using the software to carry out basic tasks throughout the day. Peter Mahoney, who heads up Nuance’s Dragon product line, can take much of the credit.

In the past six months alone, Mahoney’s business unit has rolled out new versions of Dragon Search and Dragon Dictation, both of which use core Dragon NaturallySpeaking speech recognition technology. It has released versions of Dragon Dictation for Apple’s iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad devices, offering the software as a free download for a limited time through the Apple App Store. Other versions have been made for the BlackBerry, T-Mobile’s MyTouch 3G Slide, and several other mobile devices. 

By applying speech recognition and capture capabilities to all sorts of smartphones, anyone can use dictation for just about anything once limited to written text, and they can input data up to five times faster than typing. They can document their activities on social media sites, search the Internet, create notes, compose and send email and text messages, access news and information, launch applications, manage files, and even control and navigate their devices and applications with nothing more than their voices. Through integration with Nuance Voice Control Automotive, users can perform the same functions and access the same information in their cars.

Nuance’s acquisition of MacSpeech extended the Dragon product line to Mac computers as a native application. Its recent launch of Speak & See, a suite of Dragon-based tools designed to support reading, writing, and accessibility on the PC, further expands Dragon’s reach into the educational market and makes it easier for students with physical and learning disabilities or those learning English as a second language to work with a PC.

“Dragon Dictation has proved to be a must-have app,” says Michael Thompson, senior vice president and general manager of Nuance Mobile, who notes that downloads and usage of Dragon applications by mobile subscribers “have exceeded all of our expectations.”

Mahoney came to Nuance in 2005 when the company merged with his former employer, ScanSoft. Prior to his current role, he was vice president of worldwide sales at Nuance. He also worked at IBM, Engage, PictureTel, ATG, and Performaworks.

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