Nuance celebrates 20 years of Dragon

Two decades of transcription

Nuance Communications has announced that its signature software solution – Dragon – turned 20 this year.

Since its launch in 1997, Dragon’s trajectory has been impressive and its future appears equally exciting.

“The vision from the beginning was that Dragon would transform the way people create documents,” said Derek Austin, Dragon Business Manager, Asia Pacific, Nuance.

“Instead of typing contracts, reports, correspondence, records, case notes and so forth, people would use their voice to create documents to help boost productivity.”

Dragon’s ability to deliver quality voice recognition and transcription has increased considerably over the last 20 years, with a steady clipping of Dragon’s average error rate by around 18%.

“The software has also been able to take on more ambitious applications. Initially Dragon could only be deployed in a quiet environment with people using headsets and careful enunciation. Today, users speak naturally; can dictate from a distance and in a variety of environments, including noisy offices, outdoors and inside cars.”

These improvements have occurred thanks to a number of factors. Algorithms applied to recognising speech have been steadily improving, while the evolution of more powerful computing platforms allowed Nuance to use more training data to improve its sophisticated models. The most transformative factor has been the influx of deep learning into speech recognition, which has propelled Dragon’s performance rapidly.

While the future of Dragon will continue to drive document creation, its speech recognition capacity underpins the capabilities that virtual assistants will deliver in the future.

“We are already seeing a glimpse of this,” explains Derek.

“Dragon not only creates messages. It can also send an email, do a web search and control applications on your device if instructed. As virtual assistants evolve, they will probably follow the user from device to device, and a combination of natural language understanding, artificial intelligence, voice recognition, knowledge representation and other modalities will allow the user to interact with an immensely rich world of content, services and smart devices.”

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