There is always a buzz around when the smartphone manufacturers and Mobile OS makers make things such as the voice search, but did you ever realize that you could do that in your computer, not with something new but a feature that has been there in your Windows OS since years. Ever since Microsoft had launched the Windows Vista OS version, a feature called Speech Recognition has taken its place in the Control Panel. It’s noticeable only if someone is idle enough to go through each setting in the control panel, or when the user needs something that would do the job of controlling the computer easier, and they don’t need to use their hand to control it.
There are some free and paid voice dictation tools available on the web, but why to choose then when a native feature does the same? let me guide you through the Speech Recognition tool, the functionality, how to get started with it, and how to make the best out of it.
How to Set up Speech Recognition
To start using the speech recognition service, you first need to ensure a couple of things:
You have a microphone connected to the computer – could be a headphone microphone, an external USB mic or the desktop microphone. If you are using a laptop or tablet device, you won’t need that and can use the built-in microphone provided in them
You are running Windows Vista or later OS version, i.e. either Vista, Win 7 or Win 8.
Now, to get started, go to Control Panel > Ease of Access (seen as Ease of Access Center in Windows 7/8) > Speech Recognition. If you aren’t able to find it there, search for “Speech Recognition” under Control panel and you would be able to go there.
Click on “Start Speech Recognition” and that would guide you through the process of setting it up before you start using it directly. As this is not just a simple voice recognizer, there are some options you need to set, and permissions to give before the tool actually sits on the top of your screen.
Select the microphone which you are going to use for this tool. If you are using the in-built microphone, select the headset microphone and that would be fine.
You will need to set up the microphone, and then adjust the volume of the microphone which is quite necessary, and you are asked to talk out a line given there so that the computer understands how good the level of volume would be.
Select the activation mode – Here the manual activation mode would make the recognition turn off when you say “stop listening”, and to turn it on, the user has to click the microphone button or press Control + Windows key. While in the voice activation mode, the recognition would sleep and activate only if you say “Start Listening”.
Improve accuracy – this is where you would need to allow the computer to review the documents and emails in your search index. With this, the intelligence would learn the words and phrases, and would understand you when you speak. You can either enable or disable document review.
Once the setup is completed, you will be able to see a speech recognition bar on the top of the screen. There is a small text bar which would show ask you to repeat something that it hasn’t understood.
If that speech recognition bar is annoying enough for you, not for the functioning but the looks, you can minimize it and it would still keep running. It would be visible in the taskbar.
Training the Speech Recognition
After the initial setup of volume levels and even after allowing the recognition tool to access your search index, you can still train the recognition to improve itself. Right click anywhere on the bar and click on “Configuration” and then select “Improve voice recognition”.
You would be taken through some different steps where a few sentences are to be spoken and the tool would understand the way you talk, and the loudness. It is more of a learning from both the ends.
Dictating Text for Notepad or App with Text Field
When you are using the speech recognition tool to make it type the text, you will need to dictate every small punctuation too. The usage is quite easy, because you just need to talk when the application with the text field is running, but the recognition is not that smart to include the punctuations wherever applicable, thus you will have to speak them out.
For example, if you wanted the Windows Speech Recognition to type “Hello, are there any movie tickets available for this Saturday?”, you need to speak – “Open quote hello comma are there any movie tickets available for this saturday question mark close quote”.
It’s not that easy for a user to run through all the punctuations in the mind, but there’s no other option. Making the corrections is also possible, if the speech recognition listens to you and puts it out wrong. Just say “correct *the wrong word*” and it would show you a list of suggestions for the changes, and you can speak out the word which you want to replace the wrong one. This is again the learning part for the tool.
- New line – saying this would insert a new line in the document
- New paragraph – inserts a new paragraph in the document
- Tab – inserts a tab in the document
- Literal word – inserts the actual word instead of the punctuation mark, e.g. saying “Literal question mark” would insert the words but not “?”
- Go to word – it takes the cursor before the specific word
- Go after word – takes the cursor after the specific word
Some other commands which you can easily understand and make use of, for the different functions in the text documents – Go to start of sentence, Go to start of paragraph, Go to start of document, Go to end of sentence, Go to end of paragraph, Go to end of document, Select word, Select previous 20 words, Select next 20 words, Clear selection, Caps word, All caps word, Delete previous sentence, Delete next sentence, Delete previous paragraph, Delete next paragraph.
Computer Navigation using Speech Recognition
It it was just about the text dictation, we would have recommended something lighter than this. But the tool does more than that, and it includes navigating of the computer with the voice commands. There are several commands which would be followed, and some of them which we could use regularly for the most common functions, are as follows.
- Start – say that and the Start screen would be shown
- Show Desktop – this would take you to the desktop
- Open app – say Open along with the name of the application to open it, e.g. say Open Notepad and the notepad would be opened
- Click or double click – just say Click Recycle Bin, or Double click Recycle Bin or the desired file or folder
- Close program – say Close with the name of the program, i.e. say Close Notepad to close it
- Switch program – when you have multiple programs running at the same time, you can switch between them with the voice command. Just say “Switch to Notepad” from any other program and it would switch to it
- Press key – You can press any key on the keyboard not manually but with the voice, by just saying it. “Press control key”, Press “Backspace” or any key you want to press
The above ones are just the small list of examples, and there are a lot more possibilities with the Speech Recognition, and one would get to understand that only when they start using it.