Portable speech recognizer for note taking
January 16, 2007 7:37 PM   Subscribe

Digital dictaphone with speech recognition and voice control: Is this something I can buy?

I work in a lab and would like to try taking notes by talking into a headset. What I say should be translated into text, preferrably with some smart formatting based on commands/keywords (I say "Sample: 10" and the remaining paragraph goes under a "Sample 10" tag in an XML output file, or something such). It should give me some verbal feedback, and it would be nice to have it set timers for me and maybe do some other simple tasks. The lab requires special clothing, and this device would have to be worn underneath, so everything must be handled verbally. Does this thing exist? Is there any software to make a PDA do this? I don't mind writing some top-level code myself if the major pieces are there and have accessible interfaces.
posted by springload to Technology (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Get a digital recorder, like this one, Olympus VN 960PC recorder. which you can then have the text recognized via Dragon Naturally Speaking. With Dragon, you can create custom macros to do anything you'd like, from formatting to whatever. I don't think it would give you verbal feedback though. What kind of feedback would you want? What other kinds of tasks would you want to do? If you dictate directly into a computer, like a laptop or whatever, you can have it do whatever you want live as you dictate or do command & control.
posted by reddot at 8:21 PM on January 16, 2007

I don't think (or, at least, know of) there are any recorders that actually do speech-to-text processing onboard. Rather, you're going to be using a recorder of some sort, and then dumping it into a computer later on, to do the speech-to-text.

Unless you want to use some sort of wireless microphone to connect between yourself in the lab, and your computer -- that might potentially work, provided you could find some way for the computer to provide feedback (maybe wireless headphones?). But that's going to be a real hack to get going.

I played around with speech-to-text a few years ago when I was unable to type for a time, and was severely disappointed. You should play around with Dragon Naturally Speaking, or IBM's old product, and see if the state-of-the-art is going to be enough for you. If not, then the alternative (if you can afford it) is to use a follow-the-sun dictation service. Basically you email your files to them, and they have transcriptionists in Asia or Australia do the work, and send you text files by the next morning. Prices depend on quantity and quality of the recording (and whether it involves specialized vocabulary), but it's generally a few cents a word at least.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:47 AM on January 17, 2007

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