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Voice to Text March 20, 2006

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.
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koss   Today I began the test of my voice to text software. It has always been my hope that I could dictate an entire novel into a something like a voice recorder, and then let the computer do the transcribing.

After installing Dragon Naturally Speaking, version 8, onto my home computer and training it for the last week, I was ready for the next step. I borrowed a Sony Digital voice recorder from the computer lab and went through the steps of training the voice recorder to recognize my voice. The problem with the digital voice recorder is that control of the sound is a little more difficult than it is what I am wearing a headset and the microphone is the same distance away from my mouth for each session.

I still have some major adjustments to make the system, but the following paragraphs are the first that I was able to transfer to a computer as part of my project. My goal is a rather simple one; I intend to dictate to without notes and without the benefit of the keyboard and entire novel. My hope is that I will be able to speak clearly enough and quickly enough for the computer to capture my words and thoughts without having to type on the keyboard. It is not that I am averse to keyboards per se, but I believe this voice to text translation technology could serve as assistive technology for severely disabled people, for students who are severely dysgraphic, and for people like me would just do not like to sit still.

This is a test of the remote control microphone. I am going to wear this around the house while I do chores such as laundry, raking the backyard, driving to the store, and doing dishes. Is my hope this system will enable me to write an entire novel in the free moments of time in my life. If this technology is not particularly suited to the task of transcribing an entire novel, I still believe people could use it for other tasks.

As I speak these words, I am standing outside in my backyard. One of the first questions people ask me about the transcription process is whether I will be writing the story from scratch while I work around the house or if I will be transcribing what I see and do into the novel. Actually, this particular process involved some prior legwork. On a vacation recently in Florida to celebrate my parents’ 54th wedding anniversary, I quickly sketched out the elements to a plot of a novel decided to flesh out the details later. I am hoping that the process of electronically transcribing these notes goes rather smoothly.

The problem with this first test was the level of distortion on the voice recorder was so severe that it rendered several of my sentences almost unreadable. I will have to go back to the drawing board and use a high-quality microphone with the digital voice recorder to eliminate the potential static and distortion. 

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