Fifteen years ago there were thriving speech input users’ groups. I spent a lot of time at the groups in Boston and New York.
In late 2003 the Boston users group had a meeting where it compiled many feature requests from users and came up with a top 10 Christmas list request for features for Dragon speech input.
The New York users group took a page from that Boston users group meeting – literally – and came up with a similar list in slightly different order.
Both groups sent the lists to the folks who make Dragon speech input software.
Five years ago I revisited that list, made a new Christmas list for that year, and posted it on the Patch on Speech blog: Dragon Christmas List 2013.
In a decade of development, Nuance had fulfilled one of the user requests on the list. The 2013 list included many of the original list requests.
It’s been five years, so I figured it was time to check in on the old list and make a new list.
The top two items of the 2003 and 2013 lists had to do with more accessible tech support and stronger use of the software within the company that makes it. I haven’t seen any indication of these.
The third item on the 2013 list was a bundle of suggestions from the decade-old list that had to do with users enabling themselves. The key one – allowing a user to click on a given command in a command history dialog box to edit that command – was a feature in the original DragonDictate software. Many of the users from 2003 remembered using this feature. It made it much quicker to troubleshoot custom commands and keep them organized. I think it was one of the features that fostered such a thriving user community at the time.
We’re still waiting for that one.
Fourth and fifth on the 2013 list had to do with better recognition logic and correction. There may have been some progress here, but there are still obvious logic holes – try saying “Cap 10” and you get “10” rather than “Ten”. Sure, you can add a custom vocabulary word to fix this, but things like this should work out-of-the-box so users can spend time on more advanced customizations.
Sixth on the 2013 list had to do with system focus, and to Dragon’s credit, this is probably difficult to deal with. It’s also a very frustrating problem for users. That one got its own blog item recently: Software Needs to Focus.
Seventh was a fix for Microsoft Word and Dragon not getting along. There’s been some progress here.
The last three items on the 2013 list would enable users who use the program hands-free. I’m still waiting for these as well.
So, on to this year’s list. My aim this year is to make it very practical. There are only four items.
#1 Enable users by allowing them to click on the command history dialog box to edit a custom command (the third item from 2013).
#2 Allow users to turn off/on/change wording for any Dragon command.
This would let users turn off commands that are causing problems, including one-word commands for actions that are difficult to undo, e.g. ”send”; synonymous versions of in-line commands that are prone to tripping accidentally, e.g. a user could choose to say “new line” and turn off “next line”; and the many synonymous commands that are generally not used but are taking up system resources.
This would also let users change commands that are causing problems, including words like “click” that are used frequently but are more difficult to say 100+ times a day then other choices like “touch”.
#3 Take steps to solve or mitigate the focus problem, including options for better feedback for the user about when the system focus changes (the sixth item from 2013).
#4 Grant us just one of the other past Christmas wishes that haven’t been fulfilled.
Happy holidays everyone!