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Jeff DelPapa
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I started using voice recognition almost 20 years ago, due to overuse injuries (15 years as a programmer was more than my tendons could cope with). Back then it was discrete speech, and required about three hours of training. (reading lists of words, then letting it tweak a user specific model) Now, it takes minimal training, and allows continuous speech. (some do take samples of your writing style to tune its grammar model). There are some real advantages. It is a MUCH faster typist than I used to be, and it can spell, something I was never noted for. Its accuracy is good enough to be annoying, at 95-97%. You still have to watch it, its rarely wrong, but when it is, your spell checker will be no help finding its mistakes. By the same token its not much good for a programmer. The problem isn't the language syntax, but the identifiers. The system is geared to insert correctly spelled words separated by spaces, NotMixedCaseMashedTogetherDevisedByTheVwlAlrgc. If its just your code, you can cope, picking ones that can be easily said, but if you like large systems, you will never be dealing with your code only. Its why I stopped programming, and started managing. I could produce code, but not fast enough to satisfy me. Oh yea, while some systems provide a means to operate the mouse, they make generating identifiers pleasant. There are head and eye tracking systems, but they aren't for the able, if you can move your upper body, it will never stay pointing where you want. I mentioned grammar models above, that is the trick with accuracy - That 80% accuracy figure is typical English, without a grammar model. There are to many homophones in the language, to do much better. Did you want me to insert "there" or "their"? If you know the 3 or 5 words before you can make a pretty good guess. If you can delay inserting until you get the following word, you can do even better. When you are modifying a document, you want the system to be able to query the editor, and get the words surrounding the cursor, so the editor/browser/whatever has to be built to cooperate. One of the real barriers to voice input is the modern open office. You did not want the next cube to a voice input user, especially in the old discrete speech days. Dana Bergen wrote this after some time spend with one of the early discrete speech systems. (that also required a wired, headset microphone if you wanted any accuracy.) http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/a2x-voice/a2x-faq.html#Thea2xOlympics Summary: If you spend your time creating original English text, (like most of this post) it will be faster than your typing, and will improve your spelling. If your hands don't work, but your mouth still does, it will let you rejoin the online world. Its not the answer to all the computing worlds problems, but no single tool is. This post was untouched by human hands.
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Jun 22, 2010