Whether it’s hunting and pecking for the right keys or typing at 100 words per minute, most of us are used to inputting data into the computer via the keyboard. Today, however, there are other cost-effective methods of providing fast and accurate data entry. Advancements in voice and handwriting recognition technology have made both of these input methods a viable alternative to traditional keyboarding.
With continuous speech voice recognition software, you may dictate in your own voice without a particular rate of speed or specific speech pattern. The software allows the user to speak in a natural flow such as a news anchor. Although you do not have to drastically change the way you speak, training is required for some voice pitches, different word pronunciations and accents. Voice recognition is now being offered at Illinois Central College, and with proper training, users of such software as Dragon Naturally Speaking 8.0 can voice-dictate at speeds of 150 words a minute with 97 to 100 percent accuracy.
In addition to increased speed and accuracy, voice recognition may offer other benefits such as enhanced proofreading—the software can read the dictated text back to the user—and improved writing—keying will not be an impediment to getting the information entered. Even though the software can allow the user to input more words at a quicker pace, it will not critique what is written. The writer is still responsible for editing, organizing and producing a document that is grammatically correct.
Many companies today are looking for ways to reduce Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI). While there may be several other medical factors involved with RSI, the use of voice recognition software may play a role in the reduction of one of the injuries, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). The condition is caused by the compression of the median nerve in the wrist. Since resting the inflicted wrists can lessen painful symptoms, voice recognition may be an excellent choice for data entry among CTS sufferers.
Besides voice recognition, there is handwriting recognition. Many computer manufacturers offer tablet personal computers where the screen will convert to a writing tablet. You can use the tablet screen and pen to handwrite notes, save and search for notes, eliminate paper use, draw pictures, convert ink notes into typewritten text and more. Tablet PCs are more expensive—approximately $1,500—than regular PCs. So if you do not have the budget to purchase a tablet PC, consider a peripheral handwriting tablet. These devices cost about $100 for a four inch by five inch screen. A person is able to input data simply by handwriting on the tablet. Handwriting may be converted into typed text or left as an ink object. The handwriting tablet is also great for editing drawn objects, too. Keep in mind, whatever method you use—keyboard, mouse, voice or handwriting tablet—you still need to draft and edit our documents. tpw