On April 2, 1997 Dragon NaturallySpeaking was unveiled a groundbreaking solution that was light years ahead of speech technologies previously available. Dragon NaturallySpeaking was the first-ever continuous dictation product – capable of understanding about 100 words per minute. And while the product required training, the use of a headset and the need to be tethered to a desk, never-before had there been a software technology that allowed people to speak somewhat naturally and have their words appear right before them on a computer screen. Suddenly, the ability to speak to machines as we’ve seen in movies from Star Trek to the Jetsons was becoming a reality. Even Richard Dreyfuss volunteered to participate in the very first launch for sheer admiration of the technology.
Twenty years later, Dragon continues to transform the way people work and live. Proving to be an incredibly empowering accessibility technology for creating documents and commanding and controlling the computer itself, Dragon also quickly evolved into a consumer software must-have for just about anyone who wanted to get more done faster. Over time, Dragon has become faster and incredibly accurate, supporting multiple languages and with accuracy in the high 90th percentile.
Today, Dragon’s core speech recognition innovation is at the heart of so many solutions here at Nuance – automotive, healthcare, enterprise customer care and a wide range of speech recognition capabilities for the rapidly emerging Internet of Things. The technology set forth an evolution where even twenty years ago it was thought to be the start of where you could use your voice to finally set your VCR correctly or tell your microwave to not burn your popcorn. For those of you born around the same time as Dragon – yes, we had microwaves, and no, we’re not misspelling DVR – which now thanks to our Smart Home and TV solutions inspired by Dragon you can actually talk to, and find virtually any movie from any genre.
Nuance’s Dragon Dictation and Dragon Go! Mobile applications brought speech and natural language understanding from embedded technology to the mobile cloud, and quickly proved to the consumer market that simply using your voice to send text messages, search the Web – even make dinner reservations – was just easier. And that sparked an evolution across a wide variety of mobile applications that are now considered must-haves for any mobile device.
A lot has happened over the last two decades. Now we’re talking to automotive assistants in our connected cars, virtual agents intelligently guide us through our banking transactions, virtual assistants are assisting physicians in the most remarkable ways to give them back more time with their patients. It’s hard to think of a place where we can’t simply use our voice to get the most out of technology.
Today the promise of Dragon remains the same, inspired by ways in which the solution can make people work smarter and more productively. Dragon has moved from the PC to the Mac, to the cloud – and has evolved to deliver incredible time and money-saving values to the legal, financial, corporate enterprise and even law enforcement markets.
So, what do the next twenty years have in store? Nuance’s speech and language technologies will undoubtedly be at the heart of the world’s next generation of cognitive and conversational innovations that have moved beyond recognizing just the words we say, but understanding what we mean and responding in ways that in another twenty years, will become standard in how we engage the digital world around us.
Bonus: Check out the evolution of text input in our SlideShare presentation.