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A Publication Featuring The Information Services Technology of Maine State Government
|Volume IV, Issue 8||August 2001|
By Bob Dudley
Since the invention of the typewriter, office workers have suffered from what is now called "Repetitive Motion Disorder" (RMD sometimes referred to as Repetitive Stress Syndrome). This can be pain in the wrists, back pain, numbness in the hands and fingers and many other physical problems. Until recently, suffers had to decide to endure the pain or change occupations. Not much of a choice, and the advent of the computer age greatly increased the numbers of people with RMD.
In the mid-1990's, Dragon Systems' Dragon Dictate software became available for Windows. This was a major step in eliminating the need for hands to type letters, enter data or navigate the Windows operating system. Imagine, after a few training sessions (needed to teach the software how you talk), words/instructions were dictated directly to word processors, spreadsheets or databases! Users had to stop speaking after each word, but could effectively type 30 words a minute.
Do you remember the actors on Star Trek talking to their computers? Today, our computers are nearly as responsive as Captain Kirks. With faster and more intelligent PC processors, and the newest version of Voice Recognition Software (VRS, such as Dragon Systems' Naturally Speaking see http://www.dragonsys.com/ ) we can now talk in a natural voice and have the computer do the data entry and word processing for us. Better still, macros may be written which allow users to create shortcuts to frequently used quotes or signatures.
The Department of Human Services (DHS) has set up a PC with VRS in an regional office interview room and readied it for anyone to use. Initially, users must spend 15 minutes "training" the PC prior to an interview. After saving the training session to individual user accounts, it is always available upon one key stroke from a pulldown menu. Thereafter VRS takes over, and the entire interview may be conducted "hands free", and a local printer generates interview documents for client signatures.
State workers who regularly use VRS, feel the latest version "fixes" many previous short comings. For example,
This software gets better all the time. I feel that VRS offers many innovative uses within State government and I challenge you to "think creatively" as to how VRS could be employed by your office!
Bob Dudley works for the DHS Division of Technology Services, in Portland, providing regional support for departmental offices in Portland, Biddeford and Sanford. He notes: DHS is using the latest version of Dragon Systems Naturally Speaking Professional. It runs on Windows 9x and Windows NT/2000 platforms. Dragon Systems also still has Dragon Dictate available for DOS users.