Dragon speech recognition comes to the Mac

The big brand in text-to-speech technology will be native on the Macintosh this quarter, according to MacSpeech, the company that landed the licensing deal. It's yet another hurdle overcome for switchers to the Mac.

Dragon speech recognition comes to the Mac
The big brand in text-to-speech technology will be native on the Macintosh this quarter, according to MacSpeech, the company that landed the licensing deal. It's yet another hurdle overcome for switchers to the Mac.

The announcement was made here at the Macworld Expo earlier in the week. MacSpeech, the longtime maker of iListen and other speech recognition products on the Mac side, will license the Dragon NaturallySpeaking engine from Nuance Communications. MacSpeech previously licensed the FreeSpeech engine from Philips.

On the show floor, the company demonstrated the technology in MacSpeech Dictate, its forthcoming product with the Dragon engine. It is due in February, the company said.

Creating a user profile will be easy in Dictate, taking only 5 minutes training, according to Chuck Rogers, MacSpeech chief evangelist. He said he created a new one earlier in the day, after his voice became tired at the Expo.

In his demonstration of the new product, Rogers admitted that the Royal Philips speech engine used in the older iListen product was a problem.

"Some people had good results, but some [other] people didn't have such a good result. It was a mixed bag."

Before the arrival of reliable virtualization on the Intel-generation Macs, some persons switched over to Windows in order to run Dragon technology. I know several users who took this painful route.

No longer.

This announcement is great news for the Mac community. The deal maker (and breaker) with speech recognition is accuracy. In addition, the time it takes to train the engine is important. Dragon NaturallySpeaking technology gives Mac customers both advantages.

Even better, MacSpeech is a real Mac company that understands the Mac user. That's a much better situation than we would have got if Nuance had decided to bring it over to the Mac.

I was told the engine is working perfectly. The work being done now is to bring over the Mac command capabilities found in MacSpeech's previous products.

In the demonstration, the demo worked very well indeed, in Dictate's built-in notepad module, in TextEdit and in Microsoft Word. One word missed in a long paragraph and easily corrected. Sweet.

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