Tuesday, September 21, 2010

MacSpeech get upgraded to Dragon Dictate 2

Wow.  So MacSpeech is no more.  First MacSpeech ditched their own speech recognition engine for the market and technology leader Nuance in 2008.  Then, Nuance bought the Macintosh speech recognition program earlier this year, and the ‘MacSpeech’ brand was up in the air.  Now it is officially  Dragon Dictate 2 for Mac. (MacSpeech Scribe still exists)
Nevermind the name.  The product is solid.  I’ve been playing with the new Nuance Dragon Dictate 2 for Mac which uses the same best-in-class speech recognition engine as Dictate 11 for PC, and have to say this is a more than worthy upgrade.
The biggest difference for me, straight out of the box, is that you don’t have to use a USB/Bluetooth microphone.  I was able to set the program up to use my MacBook Pro’s built in mic.  At a normal distance it is able to recognize my voice in a quiet room.  If there is any kind of noise in your work environment or you need better accuracy, use a USB or Bluetooth headset.  A cheap but functional USB headset is supplied with the boxed version but you’ll be much happier with a $20 Plantronics from Amazon.
The accuracy with a headset seems at least as good as the previous version and probably better.  I usually go a few paragraphs between missed words, and that is often the result of my mumbling or using a word that no dictionary would recognize.  There is a 20 minute training program at the beginning but you’ll be impressed at the results even if you don’t spend the time training (I imported my profile from a previous version).
Another nice thing about this version is that it allows multiple microphone profiles per user.  I use the built in Mac mic in my office but a Logitech headset when I’m out and about.  I could add one of those in ear Bluetooth headsets if I wanted to look like a douche…but I’ll pass.
One other interesting new feature I’ve been playing with is the ‘mouse movements’ via speech.  You can actually move your mouse around the screen with voice commands (see directions below).
Overall, a great product gets even better.  Let’s hope they get to name parity with the PC version next time around.
Dragon also has a very popular free iPhone app if you want to take their product for a spin on a mobile device.
What’s new in Dragon Dictate 2 for Mac:
Powered By The Latest Dragon
Dragon Dictate’s remarkable accuracy is powered by the latest version of the state-of-the-art Dragon speech recognition engine. This is the same state-of-the-art technology used by Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 for the PC.
Easier Editing
New commands are easy to say, easy to remember, and designed to simplify and speed up editing by voice. These commands include:
  • “Select ”, “Select Next/Previous”
  • “Delete” , “Delete Next/Previous”
  • “Train ” or “Correct ”
  • “Insert Before/After ”
  • “Capitalize” , “Capitalize Next/Previous”
  • “Lowercase” , “Lowercase Next/Previous”
  • “Uppercase” , “Uppercase Next/Previous”
  • And more!
Proofreading
The new Proofreading commands in Dragon Dictate 2.0 take advantage of the powerful Text-to-Speech capabilities built into Mac OS X. Use these commands to have dictated text read back to you:
  • “Read/Proofread ”
  • “Read/Proofread The Selection”
  • “Read/Proofread Document”
Surrounding Punctuation
These commands allow you to put punctuation around certain words, using a single command. Some examples are:
  • “Put Quotes Around  ”
  • “Put Parentheses Around  ”
  • “Put Brackets Around  ”
  • And more!
Voice Shortcuts for Search
Dragon Dictate’s voice shortcuts offer an easy way to search the web for information, or search your Mac for content. Speak a dynamic command, such as “Search Google for ‘Italian restaurant’”, or “Search Mac for ‘history term paper’”, and Dragon Dictate helps you find what you’re looking for.
Flexible Microphones
Switching between microphones is easier to manage with Dragon Dictate 2.0. A new “Audio Sources” setting lets you specify which microphones to use with a given Profile. You can even designate multiple microphones for a single Profile — for example, if you use both a wired headset microphone and a wireless microphone.
MouseGrid
Placement of the cursor can be accomplished with MouseGrid commands. Using numbered 3×3 grid sections onscreen, you can narrow down the placement of the mouse pointer, and then use a Mouse Click command. Some of the MouseGrid commands are:
  • “Open MouseGrid” or “MouseGrid”
  • “Small MouseGrid” (directly around mouse pointer)
  • “1″ through “9″, to narrow down placement
  • “Close MouseGrid”, or “Cancel”
Mouse Click
To click the mouse, you simply speak a command, with optional   that designate one or more keys such as Command, Option, Shift or Caps Lock. Choose from these new commands:
  • “  Mouse Click”
  • “  Mouse Double Click”
  • “  Mouse Triple Click”
  • “  Press Mouse, or Hold Mouse”
  • “Release Mouse”
Mouse Movement
New commands let you move the mouse pointer, just by using your voice. You designate the direction (left, right, up, down, or any combination), and optionally the distance (points, centimeters or inches). These new commands are available in Dragon Dictate 2.0:
  • “Move Mouse 
  • “Stop, or Slower, or Faster”
  • “Move Mouse  1-100 Points/Centimeters/Inches”
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