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Nuance has released Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11.5, which aims to bring the power of voice recognition to social networks, collaboration, and mobile users.
The voice recognition product offers direct integration into social networking sites so users no longer need to type to update Facebook or Twitter. Nuance also has added support for the iPhone, so users can use their Apple smartphone as a microphone for dictation.
"We're seeing a strong user interest in interacting with social media sources," said Peter Mahoney, Nuance senior vice president and general manager of Dragon.
For businesses using social networking services as part of their marketing and customer relations initiatives, the ability to quickly update sites, especially while on the go, can offer important competitive advantages. Dragon NaturallySpeaking has the potential to allow busy executives, and other users, to keep social feeds updated in near real-time.
The software incorporates a set of widgets, which are used to enter status updates into Facebook and Twitter, via the user's own voice. When running, Dragon NaturallySpeaking allows a user to verbalize commands, such as "open Facebook," and then a widget transcribes the message for posting. The user can edit the message using voice commands and then post the message without touching a mouse or keyboard.
Mahoney said, "This makes it very easy to interact with social media in a very spontaneous way."
Other enhancements to the product include a sidebar that associates common commands by context, and formatting and correction functions that enable faster changes and edits.
Steve Smith, an information technology consultant, touted the enhancements to the product. He said, "Overall, Dragon 11.5 is the best version of Dragon that Nuance has released--and I've been using it since version 9. Performance is outstanding and recognition speed is virtually instantaneous. In my experience, the recognition accuracy in Dragon 11.5 is so improved that I only need look at my dictation when I mispronounce a word. Adding words to the vocabulary is easier now--a great feature since I use a large number of acronyms."
All praise aside, there are some serious implications that potential corporate users may want to consider prior to adopting voice recognition technology for social networking streams. First and foremost is accuracy, if speech recognition does not provide near perfect results, companies risk posting incorrect comments that, at best, could result in a non-professional persona or, at worst, alienate or insult customers.
In Nuance's case, once the software is properly trained, the company claims accuracy of more than 99%, which should help to avoid embarrassing or nonsensical posts. That said, proofreading and editing text before posting should be encouraged to avoid any mistakes.
However, accuracy brings up another concern, one that revolves more around what should and should not be posted. That should be a primary concern for those businesses bound by compliance regulations. For example, a financial business may want to avoid allowing employees the freedom to post to social sites, where that information could be interpreted as insider information.
Joseff Betancourt, IT project manager at ALM LLC, a legal documents publisher, echoes those concerns. Betancourt said, "Adding a social aspect to the software would have me worried in cases of compliance and/or confidentiality concerns. It's often easier to have a slip of a tongue then to purposely email or publish confidential information."
The ease at which confidential information can be published by using automated solutions can be a real problem for all types of businesses. Betancourt added. "Now you are pairing a document creation software with instant access to a public (via social networks). It's a little like Weinergate--in where Twitter is the document creation and the submit button the access."
The lesson here for those leveraging social media for business purposes is to vet not only the tools, but also check the process and the rules before unleashing the power of near instantaneous content creation.
The software, available now, will cost $99 for the basic home version, $199 for the premium home version, $599 for a professional edition, and $799 for the version customized for the legal profession. Current users of Dragon version 11 will be able to download version 11.5 at no cost, beginning in a few weeks, Mahoney said.
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