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Good Cross-Platform Speech-Recognition Programs?

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the get-back-in-your-hood-worm dept.

Input Devices 175

CryoStasis writes "I am a graduate student getting my degree in biomedical sciences. Because my work often requires me to maintain a local sterile environment (under a biological hood) I find that I am unable to physically touch my computer, which sits beside me, in order to open my notes, protocols, etc. while I'm working. As a result, I have begun to search for a voice-recognition program that will allow me to tell the computer what files/programs to launch. I know that the general field of voice recognition has come a long way, but I find that the built-in speech recognition systems in both OS X and Vista are clunky and difficult to use. Are there any good, cross-platform speech-recognition programs available that might fit the bill?"

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Fresh (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25689425)

Fresh Post!

Re:Fresh (-1, Troll)

Shadow_139 (707786) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689505)


Nope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25689447)

I sure hope so, but I could not find any that were even worth considering. That includes the supposed "best," Dragon Naturally Speaking. It has a HORRIBLE system, only works with a small number of programs, and is cluttered even for those.

Smart kid (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25689449)

So you're a grad student in the sciences and write "build in" instead of "built-in".

Re:Smart kid (3, Funny)

eclectro (227083) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689761)

So you're a grad student in the sciences and write "build in" instead of "built-in".

Don't rag on him, it was his software. He originally said "included."

Re:Smart kid (0, Offtopic)

pbhj (607776) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690521)

It's not a typo it's a phraso, he's saying the "build is clunky in speech recog. wares". Perhaps is native tongue is a germanic language?

No, not really.

Use PocketSphinx (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25689457)

We have pocketshinx working on windows, mac and linux in FreeSWITCH. [] /b

Re:Use PocketSphinx (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25690463)

I used Sphinx4 in my final year project at uni. It's free and Java based, with open source code so is fully customisable to those who want to spend a little effort doing so. As it is written in Java, it works on any operating system with a Java Runtime Environment.
In the process of finding Sphinx4 I spent a lot of time trying other multi-platform software, but due to its open source nature found this to be the best (that actually worked).

Re:Use PocketSphinx (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25690637)

rulez 1 and 2?

Re:Use PocketSphinx (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25690675)

It's not really end-user oriented on its own though? The sphinx stuff makes cool speech recognition backends, but you need to be a developer to do anything useful with it.

Re:Use PocketSphinx (1)

tenco (773732) | more than 5 years ago | (#25691047)

I didn't even understand the description on the mainsite. Does it actually have anything to do with speech recognition? Only thing i understood was "telephony" and "creation of voice"...

Nope, there isn't. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25689469)

Dragon Naturally Speaking is as close as it gets. And it's only really good for basically writing down your voice, it's not really that good for controlling your computer. I believe it works in both Vista and OS X.

There used to be ViaVoice that also worked in Linux IIRC - but it basically stopped working on it circa 2001/2002.

Perhaps another input device is called for, because voice recognition right now will only frustrate you more than anything for what you want to use it for.

BTW, I believe OS X has voice recognition built in you may want to check out for controlling your computer - but it's been ages since I used it. It's actually geared toward controlling your computer, and not to replace typing.

Re:Nope, there isn't. (-1, Troll)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689487)

Damn, wanted to add to my own parent comment a note to slashdot - PLEASE LET US LOG IN like we used to. The username/password right when I type a comment, why has it become a jump through hoops where you lose where you were at by going to other pages and logging in takes you right back to the home page? This is stupid.

Re:Nope, there isn't. (3, Insightful)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689599)

BTW, I believe OS X has voice recognition built in you may want to check out for controlling your computer

I know reading articles is verbotten for slashdotters but the summary???

I find that the build in speech recognition systems in both OS X and Vista, clunky and difficult to use

Re:Nope, there isn't. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25689851)

I, for one, read the summary, but would like to contradict it.

I got RSI and finished a 100-page document using Vista voice recognition only. Just train it properly with a good mike and it's perfectly ok. Apart from dictation, you can say a word in any link or button in properly coded apps, and spell stuff out using the radio alphabet. Alternatively, you can use the commands "mousegrid" and "show numbers" to move the mouse directly or label every control with numbers, respectively.

Oh, and if you get RSI, don't even think about trying to configure anything in Linux until you recover. Ditch it for Vista on day 1. Your hands and sanity will thank you.

Re:Nope, there isn't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25690175)

Also, don't use the crap "spell it"-box. Just say "press november echo romeo delta", "press control alpha", "press backspace ten times" etc.

If you want to be really fast, install vi and use "press" to enter editor commands instead of navigating graphical user interfaces.

Re:Nope, there isn't. (2, Funny)

cheftw (996831) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690819)

I know reading articles is verbotten for slashdotters but the summary???

Failing in both English and German, that is how you roll.

Re:Nope, there isn't. (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689719)

I wanted to start a project (here is the idea [] ) that would give you a speech interface to a limited, user-defined set of commands. The user should be able to train the program and add new functions/commands.
Advantages: No huge/near-complete databases required, language independent, gets better the more it is used.

However I'm not that familiar with Speech Recognition limitations, and no one has explained me yet, why such a project hasn't been started yet.

Maybe it's just stupid and naive.

Re:Nope, there isn't. (1)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689765)

The OS X stuff is fun, but you can't tell it to do enough yet to make it useful. For example, "Look up Bobcats on Wikipedia" is not a possible command unless you explicitly code in Bobcats... Which ruins the point.

Re:Nope, there isn't. (2, Funny)

pbhj (607776) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690559)

Wouldn't it be something like "Browser, Address, Spell, w, space, b, o, b, c, a, t, s, Enter". I wouldn't expect completely natural language parsing for quite a few years yet.

Incidentally. I tried the Vista speech recognition (got a computer in Jan 08 with it preinstalled) by running the tutorial. I was amazed, it was awesome, recognised every word I said. Then I said the wrong word ... and it typed the right one. Hmmm. It was actually just detecting a sound and printing the expected word - fooled me for quite a while!

Turned off the tutorial and tried it. Couldn't even get a command to work, never mind it recognising random words. It just printed pure gobbledegook.

Re:Nope, there isn't. (1)

fatphil (181876) | more than 5 years ago | (#25691135)

Permission requested for using the core of that anecdote as one of my usenet .sigs?

Dragon Speak (2, Interesting)

BoldlyGo (1288070) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690311)

I work in healthcare, and know a man paralyzed from the neck down who uses dragonspeak to do everything on his computer.

He has a laptop, and needs someone to turn his computer off and on. But, seems to do pretty well from there, at least for searching the internet. He also buys and trades stocks with it

He had to hire an expert to customize his laptop. So, while it's currently possible to do, it's probably not something that you can do easily.

Is it cross platform? Know idea. He uses windows xp.

Paper (5, Insightful)

DebateG (1001165) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689471)

I work in a biological lab and have a similar problem. I find that paper is much simpler for most things. I have a notebook containing only printouts of protocols with little tabs denoting where each one is. I remove whatever protocol I'm using and carry it over to wherever I'm working. Anything else I need from my notes, I write on paper and carry. Yes, it's a bit wasteful, but I've found that in the preparation of gathering all the relevant pieces of paper, it really forces you to adequately prepare for an experiment instead of trying to figure it out on the fly.

Re:Paper (5, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689575)

I can't say I've ever been in a biolab, but the idea of someone working in one, with their hands in a sealed box manipulating god-only-knows-what... and then trying to talk/use a computer at the same time give me the hebejebees. I can think of at least four hollywood horror movies that started with similar premises. Sometimes a simple low-tech solution really is the best... and it saves on zombie attacks.

Re:Paper (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689659)

If you are going to mediate reality through Hollywood, you might as well count on Will Smith to save you in the end.

Re:Paper (3, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689675)

The tags on the summary say it best 'useanundergrad'

There are somethings that really just work best when you have an assistant or partner working with you. It's like sports, well most of them, you need a team to get the job done right.

Re:Paper (4, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689733)

Yes, but like most geeks... he wants to do everything himself. God forbid a man ask for help...

Re:Paper (1)

moogied (1175879) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690209)

..isn't he on slashdot.. ASKING FOR HELP?

Internets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25690333)

Not business to be taken seriously.

Re:Paper (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690941)

Only four? I think that describes every horror movie that doesn't feature a faceless psycho, a supernatural monster, or a giant ape. Bear in mind that such movies always feature the improbable. This is by design, because they wouldn't be so comforting otherwise.

Re:Paper (2, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689829)

With e-Ink readers like the DR1000S (and the DR1000SW coming soon and Plastic Logics coming next year) - this may be the way to go without having dozens of printouts. Iliads products has a wacom screen you can write and annotate upon, which makes it almost as good as paper.

Personally, I will wait a few iterations until they perfect these products, but not carrying a bundle of papers and just pressing a button to get to the next page is precisely the advantage, amongs others (like search).

Re:Paper (1)

chesapeake (264414) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689949)

Yes, seriously, do what the rest of us do when we need to do tissue culture - use a lab book, and prepare your experimental plan carefully ahead of time. Write out the quantities of stuff you need (remembering this was always hardest for me). Unless it's something like splitting cells you should be writing the experiment down for legal reasons anyway.

You'll probably need to bring things in/out of the hood occasionally in almost any experiment, so just make use of that opportunity to look over your notes again! You're going to need to spray your gloves down with ethanol to go back in, so another 15sec won't hurt.

Re:Paper (1)

dovgr (935487) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689997)

Why not mount a camera above the paper and write a program that interprets the scribblings on the paper as computer input commands?

Re:Paper (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690201)

Could someone explain what the situation is that would allow paper but not a computer?

Re:Paper (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690535)

MRI chambers due to the poor interactions if high magnetic fields and a lot of computer equipment comes to mind. Other radiological work has similar issues: biological work where it's easier to destroy paper than to sterilize computer also comes to mind.

Re:Paper (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690795)

Ok, since these guys are talking about biological work, the issue isn't that the item needs to be sterile going in, it is that it needs to be serialized when it is done, and as you say, burning the paper is a cheaper and easier way to sterilize items after the work than what can be done with a computer? If so, then the previous comments make a lot more sense.

Re:Paper (2, Informative)

DebateG (1001165) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690877)

For most of the work I do, that's not entirely correct. I work with a laminar flow hood similar to this one [] . You may have cells growing in an incubator in a sterile dish. You have to take out those cells and manipulate them some way and then keep them growing, while not contaminating the culture. The simplest thing to do is to spray down the hood with ethanol and spray anything that goes into the hood with ethanol as well. Any liquids you use needs to be passed through a sterile filter to remove any contaminating organisms. The problem is that doing all of this with a computer nearby is awkward. You sit there with dozens of tubes inside the hood, all sorts of liquids and measuring equipment outside the hood, and you have to carefully add or remove a precise amount of specific entity to the culture. The simplest way to do this is to take a piece of paper that tells you what to do and tape it to the glass. Unless you're working with an organism that can infect people, you don't need to destroy the paper afterwards because you're not trying to keep the paper sterile; you're trying to keep your tissue culture dish and the cells inside sterile.

Re:Paper (1)

eggnoglatte (1047660) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690477)

Paper isn't exactly ideal for keeping things sterile. Are you typing in your handwritten notes later? Are you replacing the printouts regularly?

Why not just use ceran wrap on the keyboard (change frequently)?

Vista (3, Funny)

Revenger75 (1246176) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689481)

You could always use Vista's speech recognition.

Here's a Video [] .

Re:Vista (1)

Revenger75 (1246176) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689523)

I failed with my link. :( []

Re:Vista (1)

Bozzio (183974) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689885)

Fail recovery FAIL.
Fail recovery WIN [] .

depends... (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689503)

Yes, software exists. But most likely unless the program only performs simple operations with dialog boxes and can function with only limited keyboard input, you will probably find it inadequate or klunky, even if the speech recognition is perfect (it never is). Instead of asking whether speech synthesis software is right for you, the better question would be is your software a good fit for speech synthesis?

Kaiser Uses Dragon (2, Informative)

knutsdood (866904) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689525)

Kaiser MDs use Dragon.

Re:Kaiser Uses Dragon (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25690361)

How is this a troll? Kaiser Permanente is a health care provider.

Why must it be cross platform? (2, Interesting)

djjockey (1301073) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689531)

I'm thinking you're only using one computer for most of your work anyway.

How important is cross platform - or is that just what the cool kids say these days?

Re:Why must it be cross platform? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25689577)

The same cool kids who type "build in" instead of "built-in". Have these kids never taken an English grammar course?

Re:Why must it be cross platform? (2, Informative)

CryoStasis (171521) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689651)

We use mainly OSX macs in the lab, but if possible I would also like to install the program on some of our other Vista machines for hands free use.

Re:Why must it be cross platform? (2, Funny)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690647)

It's not what the cool kids say.

Alternatives (5, Insightful)

ustolemyname (1301665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689571)

Wireless keyboard much?

You're asking the wrong question! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25689593)

You need to sterilize the computer (or keyboard & mouse) so you can bring them inside your hood.

Wireless keyboard & mouse is probably easiest. Autoclave, Ethylene Oxide gas, or gamma radiation will work.

Re:You're asking the wrong question! (2, Interesting)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689721)

Autoclave - will leave just a pile of melted plastic in place of kb+mouse.

Gamma rays - not sure of dose, but may play havoc with the electronics inside.

Ethylene oxide - yes, but how common is that? I used to work in a lab in a big university/major city and we didn't have ethylene oxide facilities. Only autoclaves.

I would suggest: seal kb and/or mouse in a plastic pouch, and use a chemical method to sterilize the outside of the pouch (bleach, etc). To change batteries, cut pouch open, put new batteries in, place in new pouch and repeat.

Re:You're asking the wrong question! (1)

Eudial (590661) | more than 5 years ago | (#25691103)

I would suggest: seal kb and/or mouse in a plastic pouch, and use a chemical method to sterilize the outside of the pouch (bleach, etc). To change batteries, cut pouch open, put new batteries in, place in new pouch and repeat.

The flaw in your plan with sealing a computer in plastic is the fact that it relies on a fan to cool itself. Cut off the air, and it burns.

Re:You're asking the wrong question! (1)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 5 years ago | (#25691223)

Please read carefully. I suggested sealing the keyboard and mouse, not the whole computer.

Why not sterilize the keyboard? (1)

Patman (32745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689605)

This isn't directly an answer to your question, but why not put a keyboard/mouse in the hood and use that? A wireless keyboard, perhaps, or it shouldn't be too difficult to put an interface through one of the existing ports. They even make some smaller keyboards that take up less space.

Re:Why not sterilize the keyboard? (1)

CryoStasis (171521) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689657)

The main machine in particular is an OSX laptop. Can't really sterilize it without... issues...

Re:Why not sterilize the keyboard? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25689727)

You are constraining yourself into bad solutions to your problem.

You have a bad process, and are trying to find band aids for it. The correct thing to do would be to fix your process so that you don't have this problem.

As someone else pointed out. Get a wireless keyboard. Sterilize it.

Re:Why not sterilize the keyboard? (1)

Menkhaf (627996) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689857)

Maybe an indestructible keyboard would suffice?
I bought one myself a few years ago. You have to change your style of writing a bit, as the button presses are harder than with a regular keyboard, but in return you get a keyboard that is virtually indestructible, and can withstand being dumped in water for a wash/sterilization process.

I bought mine from [] , but you might also want to search eBay or similar places.

Good luck finding a solution,

Re:Why not sterilize the keyboard? (1)

Patman (32745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690113)

So add a USB keyboard on; sterilize that. I'm sure someone has sterilized a keyboard before; even if it's as simple as putting it in a sterililizable bag or something.

Three words (5, Funny)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689613)

Cute summer student.

Re:Three words (1)

CryoStasis (171521) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689673)

I'll have to keep that in mind.... LOL

Re:Three words (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690553)

Cute summer student.

Alterior motives and humour aside, a human assistant is actually a very good idea.

Re:Three words (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690817)

And flipping pages is one of the things that undergrads actually do quite well, even without lots of training.

I do love the "insightful" mod though.

Lets Recognize Speech (1)

neoform (551705) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689643)


Let's Wreck a Nice Beach.

Yeah, there's no such thing as "good" speech recognition yet.

Re:Lets Recognize Speech (1)

stjobe (78285) | more than 5 years ago | (#25691071)

I thought the quote was:

"It's hard to wreck a nice beach."
  - unknown speech recognition software

Put a keyboard in the box? (1)

Xocet_00 (635069) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689655)

I use a nitrogen box (O2 and H2O less than 0.1 ppm) in my lab to test transistors. I test several hundred transistors at a time, and need to connect probes to electrodes on each one manually, so my hands are always in the glove box. In order to start my analysis program and enter a filename, I wired a USB port to an electrical feedthrough and put a USB hub inside. Originally the hub was just for a keyboard and mouse, but it has since proved useful for other devices (cameras, etc) as well.

Can you do something similar here, assuming a keyboard and mouse can be sufficiently sterilized?

Why speek? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25689663)

you can control your PC without touching it.
You've probably heard of Johnny Lee before:

On the down side, Lee provides a windows-only framework, and you'd have to write an application on it, or re-write a cross-platform solution.

There are also other "gesture" solutions.

You might want to consider alternate peripherals.. (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689665)

The current state of voice control is, unfortunately, rather clunky. On the plus side, there are slightly nonstandard peripherals that might do the job instead.

For some years now, there have been pointing devices for the disabled that essentially involve an IR webcam and a reflector or LED stuck to whatever part of the body the user can still move. [] make some such, I suspect that they also have competitors. On the cheap side, there has been a fair bit of buzz lately about using video processing software with ordinary webcams. A bit of googleing should turn up stuff for Win, Mac, and Linux.

On the keyboard side, silicone rubber flexible keyboards have proliferated alarmingly of late. The keyfeel is bloody awful; but they are cheap, fully sealed against moisture, and can survive cleaning with various moderately horrible solvents.

With a simple USB hub, you should be able to leave the keyboard and webcam in the hood, never having to touch the webcam, and dousing the keyboard in whatever horrible substances are necessary to keep it sterile, and just plug in the one USB cable to your laptop before you begin work. Not wildly elegant; but it should provide you with a standard keyboard and pointing device that fulfill your requirements.

Wii hack it (1)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689777)

For some years now, there have been pointing devices for the disabled that essentially involve an IR webcam and a reflector or LED stuck to whatever part of the body the user can still move.

Sounds like one of Johnny Lee's projects [] , you could probably accomplish this with a Wii-remote and his free software. []

teamwork (3, Insightful)

Goldsmith (561202) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689695)

There is no substitute for teamwork. I don't work in a biologically clean environment, but I do sometimes work in a vacuum clean environment which requires that I avoid touching anything that isn't cleaned to go into a UHV chamber. Having a teammate to work in the "dirty" environment in the rest of the lab makes things much, much easier.

The progress of research is never perfectly predicable, and you're always going to find some surprise which needs immediate attention. Having another person there means you don't have to prepare in advance every possible command you may need a computer to run, plus a person can do things like answer the phone and sign for deliveries. It's also good practice for later in your scientific career when you'll have to train and trust your own students/interns/employees.

Re:teamwork (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25691273)

Having a teammate to work in the "dirty" environment in the rest of the lab makes things much, much easier.

Yeah but this is slashdot. He could go down the pub if he wanted to be told to get somebody to help him. He obviously wants a slashdot solution. So here goes:

Build a robot that responds to voice commands. Then you can say, "Robot! Turn Macintosh computer on!" and the robot will turn the computer on. Then you can say, "Robot! Look up the chemical formula for DNA on Wikipedia! I think I might have found some DNA but I should just check with a reliable source!", and the robot will use firefox (robots don't like IE) and check on Wikipedia and read out the answer to you.

Since the robot has to be able to read to tell you what's in your notes and stuff, you may as well go the whole nineteen yards and make it able to understand English text. Then set it loose on those Stupid Unix Tricks articles, so it can teach you Unix.

Other useful things you could get the robot to do are: make coffee, dab the sweat off your brow with a damp cloth, go downtown and collect pizzas, and if it can dance like a monkey that'd be great too. Ook ook.

Since the questioner is working in a bioweapons lab, it's a fair bet that Iranian secret agents will be trying to break in and steal the HyperAnthrax he's working on. Therefore, it makes sense to also give the robot ninja training. You'll probably need some sort of Enemy Secret Agent Or Friendly Lab Worker Identification System (ESAFLWIS), but that's a subject for a different Ask Slashdot. A ninja robot will need a lot of secret compartments to store throwing stars, smoke bombs, stink bombs, katanas, those spikey hook gloves for climbing walls, ect ect ect. Since you're working in a bioweapons lab, probably a few anthrax bombs or smallpox bombs would be good too.

So yeah, don't listen to those other people who are trying to waste your time with "a cute assistant", or "a wireless keyboard", or "pieces of paper". Definitely build a robot. It shouldn't take long. I saw a documentary about one scientist who built one, just took a few hours. It was almost realistic enough to go to school with real meatbag children without being noticed. I think it was called "Small Wonder", it'll probably be on the history channel again soon.

Keypad + Nose (3, Interesting)

invckb (551932) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689699)

Kind of a clunky idea, but here goes.

Get a numeric keypad, and pop off every other button cap. Map the remaining keys to whatever actions you want to control on the computer. Tape the keypad to the window on your hood, perhaps with blue masking tape (removes cleanly). Hit the buttons with your nose.

On Windows, I would get all the files opened, and have a key for Alt-Tab, and then keys for left, right, up and down.

Good Luck!

Re:Keypad + Nose (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690219)

Maybe he could buy a keyboard with extra-large letters. Then he could hit the buttons with the elbow as well. Don't know, maybe something like this? []

Undergrads (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25689741)

The best (and cheapest) speech recognition program is "undergrad". It will open anything you want on your computer, and even read it back to you. Sometimes it just stops working, though, so you might have to keep getting newer versions as they become available.

foot mouse (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25689763)

You can get a mouse that you can operate with your feet. Would that work?

footsie mouse (2, Interesting)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689907)

Shame you're sitting unseen. There are foot controls for the simple stuff he's asking for. Now if he wants to do something more complex then the voice option is the viable one.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25689793)

Why not to just buy wireless keyboard (second) and keep it always in sterile environment?

Microsoft Office 2003 and 2007 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25689805)

The Microsoft office suite has built in speech recognition software. You may have noticed the language bar with in your taskbar.But maybe that is what you were referring to when you mentioned Vista.

Try a Laser Keyboard (4, Interesting)

gambolt (1146363) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689825)

they are awkward but pretty cool. It's a virtual keyboard projected onto a flat surface which could be sterile. There's zero tactile feedback but you can use it for simple stuff.

Example []

Re:Try a Laser Keyboard (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690517)

That looks like a pretty cool toy - too bad there are no linux drivers yet. On the other hand, there are a lot of drivers for commonly-used devices. I wonder how much these would quiet down an office full of cubes with people pounding on noisy keyboards.

One day there will be (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25689833) []

use apple script dude (1)

Burneypmcgillroy (1402963) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689869)

Re:use apple script dude (1)

Burneypmcgillroy (1402963) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689999)

Seriously if you have a good mic you can program applescript and make words up the script will open your files / programs. This is not for adding text and the like but TFA-Question only says open files. You can eliminate all other commands from speech recognition and you will have less problems with the computer doing strange things. This really does work very well, you can make up some crazy words that will open whatever. Simple scripts could add words or numbers (as mentioned in site above) and most applications have speakable commands or just use applescript to make application do what you want. What problems have you had that cause you to label it clunky?

Gesture recognition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25689961)

There's a beta version of gesture recognition software here:

You might get a few bills for lab equipment breakages if you wave too hard, but at least the software is free.

More on Dragon Systems (4, Insightful)

bdwoolman (561635) | more than 5 years ago | (#25689973)

Dragon Systems is by far the best speech to text resource. I use 9.0, but 10.0 is out. And by all accounts it is better. Like all good tools that have power and flexibility Dragon takes some time to master. But it is intelligent and repays hard work by improving. Suggest you get Dragon Preferred or, at a minimum, Pro. With these you can also make audio notes on a stand-alone recorder which may be fed in to the program later for transcription. If the audio is good (use a headset) the results are very good. Of course it needs an editing treatment, but what draft does not? So, you could make notes in addition to controlling the computer.

I suggest you practice at some time when your hands are not busy playing with the Andromeda Strain. And if you get skilled with Dragon you can swap modes; that is, speech to text or control mode.

The hard truth is this: Speech to text is something you have to learn how to do. Even if the program is perfect there is a learning curve for verbally inserting punctuation. And for writing with your voice. Nine has a feature to do punctuation automatically, but it works as poorly as most stenographers. In another life I used to dictate to a secretary who took shorthand. Even with her I interposed punctuation. And I can tell you...It really took me some time to learn her curves. Drum Roll Please

Extra keyboard and mouse? (1)

MrMr (219533) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690065)

Inside the hood and sterilized with UV.

Re:Extra keyboard and mouse? (1)

GeekDork (194851) | more than 5 years ago | (#25691017)

There are some vandalism-proof keyboards with stainless steel surfaces, which should survive a lot of "soft" sterilization methods like surface disinfectants, highly UV resistant, basically anything less demanding than an autoclave. An example can be found here: [] (even comes with an integrated trackball).

The difficulties of a one-armed man wanking off (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25690073)

to Internet pr0n...

no touchie (1)

jjeffries (17675) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690085)

"I find that I am unable to physically touch my computer"

This makes computer sad. :(

Build a terminal (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690173)

Rather than trying to make speech recognition totally portable you might consider building it into a portable machine like an eeepc, then use that machine as a terminal for any system you want to interact with.

Try thinking in terms of a voice activated keyboard instead of a voice activated computer without a keyboard.

Do you need to control the computer in real time? (1)

mhh5 (176104) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690339)

How about a voice recorder? Transcription might be a pain, but a digital voice recorder seems a lot cheaper and more reliable -- if it works for you.

What is the real problem? (1)

jeremyp (130771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690415)

What is the real problem you are trying to solve?

Why is it you think you need access to your computer? Surely there are ways to record your results without recourse to a computer in a sterile environment. I mean seriously what is wrong with a notepad and a pencil? In the days of Newton, Galileo, Einstein, Lavoisier, Lord Kelvin, Darwin, Planck, Curie etc that was the best technology available and yet, amazingly, they were still capable of good science

Re:What is the real problem? (1)

pbhj (607776) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690625)

Yeah why do they need that particle accelerator, people have managed with cloud chambers for decades ....

I agree, he should state the exact problem rather than assuming he knows the solution but can't implement it. But your argument is spurious. Perhaps he needs real-time graphing from sensors or some such?

My vote is for the "wiimote whiteboard" projected onto the work bench (with an onscreen keyboard) or simply a projection keyboard.

Dragon, vmware and a named fifo? (1)

Richard_J_N (631241) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690499)

How about some sort of vmware (or kqemu etc) hack using dragon, then either write to a named pipe (if that's possible), or
make the file network mounted, and auto-save every 10 seconds? Actually, you could set Dragon up to input into a browser text-box, and do some AJAXy stuff to capture stdout....

Re:Dragon, vmware and a named fifo? (1)

Gazzonyx (982402) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690871)

vgetty, FTW?!

Article in WaPo (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690589)

Just a coincidence, but the tech writer at WaPo has an article up today about speech recognition software [] , FWIW. I used to use one that I have forgotten the name of unfortunatly on Mac classic..good for not much, but would open applications, that was fun enough "Computer! Open Netscape!" And that was about it. I imagine they have to be just a scosh better now. It's a goldmine though, if anyone really nails it, we have an aging population, the ones that have disposable income, who are getting arthritis in their fingers. Personally, I would like such a system for using the computer while doing some jobs, such as working on equipment and you get greasy hands, or say, you are fooling around on your bench and want to yak at the computer to display stuff because you have a hot iron in one hand and tweezers in the other. Very useful I think if it is ever perfected better.

Gestures via webcam (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690699)

Software such as web browsers can perform actions via mouse gestures. But what if you don't have a mouse? Use a webcam!

Google "gesture webcam" and you'll get links to demos on youtube and software. I'm not sure how mature this idea is but it sounds cool!

Have no keyboard? learn sign-language! :) For deaf people that can sign faster than they can type researchers are developing webcam recognition [] .

Those that don't grok sign-language could potentially use character-based gesture input modeled on Palm's Graffiti.

Wrong question (4, Insightful)

Vornzog (409419) | more than 5 years ago | (#25690763)

You don't want voice recognition. You want basic planning and lab book management skills.

You should be asking "Why didn't I get all of my protocols, reagents, samples, and equipment set up before I started my experiments for the day?"

I did quite a bit of biochemical benchwork to get my PhD, involving flu. Touching almost anything was either a bad idea for your health, or a worse idea for your experiment.

Instead, you laid out a plan for what experiments you were going to do for the day. You wrote it up in your notebook before you started. If you were doing a standard experiment, you probably had an easy excel template where you typed in the number of replicate experiments you wanted to run, and it did all of your calculations for you. Print it out, tape it in your notebook, grab all your samples and reagents from the freezer, and then (and *only* then) did you put on your gloves and go into the sterile hood.

My old lab book is *full* of these little protocols, usually with a typed note at the bottom about which samples I wanted to run, and a few hand written notes from after I took my gloves off.

For long, complex protocols, lay out a protocol book with step by step instructions. For really sensitive experiments, don't be afraid to change gloves after you flip the page. Gloves are cheap, compared to the reagents needed to run even a single PCR reaction.

A good craftsman has laid out all of his tools, plans and materials before he starts work. Good chefs have all their ingredients measured and utensils easily accessible before they start cooking. Either one *could* use a computer to track their project. But they don't, because it just makes everything more complicated.

Use a computer for planning, data storage, analysis, etc. Once you put the gloves on, good notebook skills put the computer to shame every time.

Re:Wrong question (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#25691153)

Why didn't you just turn pages with a forceps?

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