Speech Recognition Period
current mood: impressed
I've been testing out this little speech recognition program and although it has its bugs and limitations, the thing that surprises me the most is just how far the technology seems to be coming along. You can close windows, switch between windows, open and switch between programs, and even dictate documents and most of it works surprisingly well. Of course, it is quite possible to get into corners from which there is no real way out except to break down and use the keyboard or mouse. And sometimes during dictation, the computer will write things that are rather bizarre. The bright side is that you can teach the program to do a better job of recognizing your voice. Over time and with practice, it will start making fewer mistakes.
The syntax can be rather weird. For instance, you have to say each punctuation mark, line break, or new paragraph. All well and good for word processing files, but there is a long way to go before it will be ready for things like complicated emails, databases, programming, or design tasks. For instance, it doesn't even seem to recognize the "Compose mail" link in Gmail so you have to use the mouse to simply open a new message by hand.
I would certainly not recommend this sort of thing for someone who's trying to get real work done on a deadline. But it's amazing to consider the potential and where this technology will be in another five or ten years.
And on another note, I recently bought a fancy new headset with a microphone for my laptop, so I've downloaded Skype now (free PC-to-PC calls and very cheap PC-to-phone calls). If anyone has it and wants to find me on there, let me know or just search for rm_mcgee.