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Voice Recognition: I'm Listening

Voice-recognition software has never been a staple of my work routine. I have always felt more eloquent with a keyboard than a microphone. So I was surprised and intrigued this week when Dennis Kennedy, a legal technologist whom I highly regard, listed his Legal Tech New Year's Resolutions and put use of speech-recognition software at the top of his list. He explained:

"I've probably dabbled in speech recognition off and on for maybe the last ten years. The experiments have had their ebbs and flows. Like many other technologies, speech recognition requires a continuing effort to engrain it as a habit. I've always gotten distracted from the experiment. So far in 2007, I've decided to use my Tablet PC as a dedicated speech recognition machine and added RAM to it. In my experience, the crucial link in the speech recognition process is microphone placement. I've gotten a new headset that will keep the mike in a relatively fixed position. Next up, starting to make a habit of creating first drafts by voice. A reasonable goal: creating all first drafts of blog posts by dictation by the end of March."

Kennedy's inspiration came, in part, from St. Louis lawyer George Lenard, who recently wrote on his blog that voice-recognition software is his favorite productivity tool. Lenard, who uses Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9, explained how it makes him more productive:

"I was never a good typist. I had difficulty learning to dictate in a manner that produced results that did not require extensive editing to suit my perfectionistic writing style. With voice recognition, I have the benefit of extremely rapid typing, combined with the ability to compose and edit on-screen as I go -- as opposed to dictating a tape, unable to efficiently review and edit until after I’ve waited for someone else to type it."

Curious, I looked around for other lawyers' thoughts on speech-recognition software. I found Brett Burney's review of NaturallySpeaking published in November at Burney, the legal technology support coordinator at Thompson Hine in Cleveland, writes that voice recognition still may not be all that some lawyers imagine, but it has reached a stage of development where he can recommend it confidently. "Just understand," he adds, "that it's more of a complement to a keyboard and mouse, and not a full replacement."

After reading what these lawyers say, I suddenly find myself all ears for speech recognition.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on January 25, 2007 at 04:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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