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LinuxPlanet: Giving Voice to Linux with ViaVoice

Dec 26, 2000, 16:40 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Scott Courtney)

"ViaVoice is far from perfect, as are all current speech recognizers. Occasionally it will goof, and the best course of action for the user is to make it learn from its mistake. Say "open correction window" aloud, and the correction dialog will appear. In this dialog, you can either choose a likely replacement from a list, or you can enter your own spelling. You can also select multiple words (however mangled they may be) from the source text and then tell ViaVoice to add this phrase to its user-specific dictionary. User entries (both words and phrases) appear to take priority in the matching algorithm, which causes the program to be extremely accurate on proper names or technical terms, if you take the time to add them to your dictionary...."

"Compared to other speech recognition systems I've seen, the accuracy of ViaVoice is superb and I can only assume it will improve with training of both the software and the user. There is definitely a knack to getting accurate results with text-to-speech conversion, and I can't really describe it. Suffice it to say that you will learn what works and what doesn't, and you will become able to use the software faster and more naturally over time. You can also re-run the enrollment program, choosing different text samples than the one you did first, to improve the accuracy of the speech recognition engine...."

"The one major weakness of ViaVoice today, in my opinion, is that it is not at all integrated with other applications. The process of dictating text, then cutting and pasting it into another program, is cumbersome in the extreme. Perhaps it is because in OS/2 Warp 4 I have seen what can be done, but this situation really frustrates me. Apparently IBM agrees, for they have joined the KDE League and are offering a software development kit (SDK) that allows ViaVoice to be seamlessly integrated into applications and into KDE itself. I look forward to seeing what ViaVoice will look like a year from now, when the KDE partnership begins to pay off."

"In the meantime, ViaVoice has earned a place on my hard drive and it will remain there, not as a toy, but as a tool. Perhaps I won't use it every day, but I will use it, and I will probably buy a copy for my wife, an audio-visual librarian. I just bought a gigahertz Athlon motherboard and 256 megabytes of RAM, and I can't wait to try ViaVoice on the new machine."

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