As an individual who prefers the spoken word over the written word, I have been longing for the day when I could have my eloquent phrases automatically turned into flowing text. When working on my master’s thesis a few years back, I purchased iListen for Mac in hopes of typing less. After 5 or 6 attempts, I gave up. Too much trouble. But, in the technology industry, a few years makes a lot of difference.
In the WSJ article “Get Ready to Speak to Your Phone — and Be Understood” Ben Rooney gives us an update on the technology. The company that has been behind the technology all along, Nuance, is still the one making technological advances. (Nuance – NASDAQ: NUAN closed at 20.32 today, near the 52-week high of 20.97). The Nuance technology is behind Dragon Naturally Speaking, GM’s OnStar, and many mobile phone’s predictive text.
I did just a bit of research and discovered that the first speech recognition technology came from IBM in 1961 — the IBM Shoebox. It was literally the size of a shoe box and had nine lights. As you spoke a digit 0-9, the corresponding light would shine. Now we are accustomed to basic speech recognition for voice dialing, call routing, and simple data entry, such as credit card numbers. Windows Vista added Windows Speech Recognition, though it is positioned as “Accessibility Technology.” Let me know if you have used this technology on a daily basis, and if so, what you think of it.
I am ready for speech recognition to be mainstream. I imagine telling instead of typing this blog. I imagine explaining an entire problem to an automated tech support line and getting a relevant answer. What do you imagine? How long will we have to wait?