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Dictate Brings Speech Recognition to Microsoft Office

Dictate is one of the newest offerings from Microsoft Garage. It is a way to type effectively using your voice and is available as an add-in for Microsoft Office on Windows. Compatible with all Office programs including Outlook, PowerPoint, and Word, it runs using the same speech recognition technology used by Cortana, and Microsoft Cognitive Services A.I. such as Microsoft Translator.

Once the add-in is successfully installed, a new menu appears in the toolbar marked ‘Dictation’, which will let you click to start the speech-to-text interface.

Commands

Dictate offers some verbal commands, like New Line, Delete, and punctuation commands, and allows you to enter punctuations manually if you prefer (only available in English).

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Translation

Dictate also boasts of a powerful real-time translation feature which supports more than 20 languages for dictation, which can be translated into 60 languages. Perhaps one of Dictate’s most unique features is that it lets you not only translate up to 60 languages, but it also lets you speak to it in one language, and will translate in real time into another.

Here, you can see this feature at work. We tested out the phrase “Hello. This is a sample dictation” in English, French, Hindi, Korean, and Persian respectively, and for the most part, the results seem to be quite accurate.

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Testing Speech to Text

To test out the actual dictation capabilities, we decided to read aloud the opening paragraphs of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. To account for different types of voices, we tried to read the text in 2 distinct accents: Indian and Canadian.

The sample text is below, followed by both dictation samples (Discrepancies are marked in Bold):

Sample Text

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense.

Mr. Dursley was the director of a firm called Grunnings, which made drills. He was a big, beefy man with hardly any neck, although he did have a very large mustache. Mrs. Dursley was thin and blonde and had nearly twice the usual amount of neck, which came in very useful as she spent so much of her time craning over garden fences, spying on the neighbors. The Dursleys had a small son called Dudley and in their opinion there was no finer boy anywhere.

The Dursleys had everything they wanted, but they also had a secret, and their greatest fear was that somebody would discover it. They didn’t think they could bear it if anyone found out about the Potters. Mrs. Potter was Mrs. Dursley’s sister, but they hadn’t met for several years; in fact, Mrs. Dursley pretended she didn’t have a sister, because her sister and her good-for-nothing husband were as unDursleyish as it was possible to be. The Dursleys shuddered to think what the neighbors would say if the Potters arrived in the street. The Dursleys knew that the Potters had a small son, too, but they had never even seen him. This boy was another good reason for keeping the Potters away; they didn’t want Dudley mixing with a child like that.

First Translation (Indian Accent)

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number 4 privet drive were proud to say that they were perfectly normal. Thank you very much. They would last people, you’d expect to be involved with anything strange or mysterious because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense.

Mr. Dursley was the director of a film called Groningse, which made drills. He was a big beefy men with hardly any neck, although he did have a very large mustache. Mrs. Dursley was thin and blonde and had nearly twice the usual amount of neck, which came in very useful as she spent so much time cleaning over garden fences spying on the neighbors. Please had a small son called Dudley and in their opinion. There was no final boy anywhere.

The Dursleys had everything they wanted but they also had a secret and their greatest fear was that somebody would discover it. They didn’t think they could bear it if anyone found out about the Potters. Mrs. Potter with Mrs. Dursley, sister, but they had met for several years. In fact, Mrs. Dursley pretended she didn’t have a sister because her sister and her good for nothing husband was under Slyrs as possible to be. The Dursleys shudder to think what the neighbors with see if the borders are right now, the street. Did you please knew that the potters? How to do, but they have never seen him. This boy was another good reason for keeping the Potters. We didn’t want ugly mixing with a child like that.

 

Second Translation (Canadian Accent)

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number 4 privet drive were proud to say that they were perfectly normal. Thank you very much. They were the last people, you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense.

Mr. Dursley Directiva for a call groningse, which made drills. He was a big beefy men with hardly any neck, although he did have a very large mustache. This is seriously with thin blonde and had nearly twice a year, you amount of neck, which came in very useful as she spent so much of her time cleaning over garden fences spying on the neighbors. The Dursleys had a small son called Dudley and in their opinion. There is no finer boy anywhere.

Pictures please had everything they want it but they also had a secret and if the greatest fear was that somebody would discover. They didn’t think they could bear it if anyone found out about the Potters. Mrs. Potter was Mrs. Dursley sister. They hadn’t met for several years. In fact, my sisters. We pretended she didn’t have a sister because her sister and her good for nothing husband, whereas under Thursley issue as possible to be. The Dursley knew that the Potters had a small sent to but they had never even seen him. This boy was another good reason to keep the Potters way they didn’t want that we mixing with a child like that.

Conclusion

As we can see, Dictate works pretty well overall, but trips up in places. Maybe it’s a matter of gaining practice, but at first glance, it looks like the problem areas are more or less the same in both tests.

With that being said, Dictate certainly would be useful for things like writing blog posts, just not when you’re in a hurry. It is a useful tool if you prefer to think out loud, capture your train of thought, and give yourself more material to work with. Just as long as you remember to proofread after.

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