Speech Recognition & Dictation News

A Short History of Naturally Speaking Software

Contrary to popular belief voice recognition software has been around for many years.
 There is, however, one speech recognition product that has rapidly advanced the technology and has made it possible for you to speak naturally into a microphone while dictating and that is Naturally Speaking.
The technology for speech recognition was first discovered in the 1930’s and was first brought onto the public market by ATT&T’s Bell Laboratories. The main drawback that the software encountered was insufficient computer power, with CPU speed and RAM memory being limiting factors contributing to the stalling of all speech recognition software development. These days, however, computers have more than enough power to get speech software to process more than 130 words a minute.

The history of Naturally Speaking started out in 1977 with Dr James Baker, as a simple Speech Understanding System that was simply called Dragon. Dr Baker worked on the system until 1982 when he and his wife, Dr Janet Baker, evolved the software into Dragon Systems, a Voice Recognition System. This system was released to the public as Dragon Dictate for DOS based computers and made use of the famous Markov Model for voice recognition. The biggest drawback of Dragon Dictate is that there was not enough computer power to keep the software running smoothly. This meant that the DOS based program could not successfully carry out word segmentation and was unable to recognise when a single word started or ended when strung together in a common sentence. This forced users to dictate a single word at a time, pronouncing every syllable perfectly for the software to be able to pick up what has been said. This worked but was slow and frsutrating to use. The voice recogntion software has come a very long way since them. See our voice recognition demonstration to see how Version 12 does today!

The software development was not completely stopped however. It was able to recognise more than 30 000 words. After the release of Dragon Dictate,  Dr Baker once again went to work on the system under a government contract and successfully launched speech recognition systems for the Apple Newton Message Pad PDA. By 1997 they were able to release much better software, in the form of NaturallySpeaking 1.0.

In the year 2000, Dragon Systems was purchase by Lernout and Hauspie. However, soon after the acquisition Lernout and Hauspie filed for bankruptcy following the All-Share scandal derived by Goldman Sachs. This left the Bakers with a lawsuit against the conglomerate, which is still been fought to this day. Soon after the fall of Lernout and Hauspie, Scan Soft acquired the Speech Recognition Software and re-branded itself asn Nuance Communications in 2005.

Naturally Speaking has successfully launched 12 versions of the software and has taken control of a large chunk of the market share in relation to the speech recognition industry. The company now dominates many industries with versions of Naturally Speaking for the basic users in the form of Access to Work, larger companies if the form of their Professional Edition, the medical community with their Medical version called Dragon Medical and their Legal Edition for Legal Professionals, among many others. The latest version  is Naturally Speaking 12 Premium and Professional.

Naturally Speaking has advanced far beyond those early pioneering days of Dragon in the 1980’s and is now a highly sophisticated – yet easy to use – voice recognition software application that really can empower you to complete your work in a much shorter period of time.

Versions of the Dragon Software include:

• V1 – 1997 for Personal Use
• V2 – Also 1997 in Standard, Preferred and Deluxe Editions
• V3 – In 1998 in Point and Speak, Preferred and Professional Editions
• V4 – In 1999 in more than 5 Editions with Medical and Legal making its debuts – voicerecognition.com.au started selling version 4. Thats how long we have been around!
• V5 – In 2000 with updates for all major versions of the software
• V6 – In 2001 All major editions updated including Essentials
• V7 – In 2003 All major versions updated
• V8 – In 2004 with update for all of their versions
• V9 – In 2006 with updates for all major versions and the release of new versions namely SDK Client and SDK Server
• V10 – In 2008 with update for all versions excluding SDK Client and SDK Server
• V11 – In 2010 all major versions were updated and a launch of a new Home Edition was made
• V12 – In 2012 all major versions of Dragon were updated. Medical is still on v11 for now.

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