Speech Off Switch

I get a lot of questions about how I use speech input. One of the most useful details of my setup is a fast on/off switch.

It may seem like overkill to add a dedicated speech microphone switch to the underside of my desk when it’s already possible to switch the microphone using speech, keyboard or pointing device, but it’s not. It’s great to be able to quickly and surreptitiously turn the speech input microphone off with my knee or hand if the phone rings or someone walks in.

The brains of the switch setup is a StealthSwitch3. You can plug any type of switch into the switchbox. I use a big round button switch.

My keyboard lives under my desk, tucked away on top of my computer. With this out of the way I have a lot of room on my desk for other things. I can get to the keyboard if, for instance, my speech input program crashes. But it’s inconvenient to rely on the keyboard for anything I do at all frequently, like turn the speech input microphone on and off. I can also toggle speech input using the Wacom tablet pen I occasionally use to move the mouse without using speech. But it’s a bit slower and also more tedious to pick up a pen, look at the screen, and hit a small target than simply lift my knee without having to look.

The switch makes for quick turnoffs, which prevents the speech input program from interpreting a phone ringtone or someone else talking as stray words or commands that I then have to undo.