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Will the iPad Follow the Failure of Voice Dictation Software?

[David Spark (@dspark) is a veteran tech journalist and the founder of Spark Media Solutions, a storytelling and social media production company that specializes in live event production. He blogs at Spark Minute and can be seen regularly on KQED and John C. Dvorak’s Cranky Geeks.]

Thirteen years ago, in 1997, I wrote an article for Family PC magazine (a now-defunct Ziff Davis publication) about dictation software. That was the year programs such as Dragon NaturallySpeaking and IBM ViaVoice had turned a critical corner in their respective capabilities. No longer did you have to dictate in an unnatural slow paused pattern (e.g. “Take…A…Letter”).  You could now speak naturally (e.g. “Take a letter”) and the program would seamlessly enter your words with 90-plus percent accuracy.

At that point, myself and many others in the industry thought that voice dictation would be a game changer. The technology and publicity was fantastic. Actor Richard Dreyfuss was a staunch supporter, mentioning Dragon’s software on The Tonight Show. Voice dictation seemed like a perfect technological interface solution for human-to-PC communications. When we’re born, speech is one of the first forms of communications we learn, so let’s train computers to adapt to a human’s way of communicating. It sounded like a slam dunk solution, but there was one problem…

We’ve become comfortable communicating with keyboards.
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