Speech to text – the challenges and the opportunities

| Steve Newton

A look at some of the key challenges associated with using speech to text systems, together with a round-up of the main benefits you can expect to achieve if you address these issues effectively.

Speech to text – the challenges and the opportunities

For many organisations speech to text software is the preferred option when considering their dictation requirements. However, despite the many benefits (more on these later) the choice is not always as clear cut as it might first appear. There are a number of challenges associated with using speech to text capabilities which, if overlooked, can impact upon the hoped-for gains.

Challenges

The reality is that if speech recognition isn’t accurate, then maximising the potential benefits will be an up-hill struggle. And there are a variety of factors that can impact upon the overall levels of accuracy:

Background noise

This is one of the biggest challenges, not least because speech to text software is increasingly used in a variety of locations and remote working environments, from construction sites to customer’s offices. There’s also the fact that many remote users are using smart phones for dictation rather than specialist voice recorders that incorporate high quality microphones. All of which means that white noise and other background voices can impact upon overall accuracy. Dictation microphones such as the Philips SpeechMike will significantly reduce background noise and maximize speech recognition result accuracy.

Accents

Regional or foreign accents can be another stumbling block to achieving high accuracy levels. A high-quality speech recognition will find it easier to distinguish even the most varied accents.

Other common issues

At the more detailed level, the accuracy of the speech to text software can also be impacted by a range of basic factors such as punctuation placement, capitalisation and correct formatting. In reality, it is inevitable that some spelling, grammatical and syntax errors will slip through, reinforcing the need for careful proof reading of any document prior to it being circulated or sent out.

Data privacy

Recent surveys confirm that managers and professionals are increasingly concerned about data security and privacy issues. This is hardly surprising given the number of high-profile security breaches in recent times. Such concerns are exacerbated in the area of dictation by the fact that many of the digital files and documents created contain personal or commercially sensitive information. So, the ease with which speech to text software creates and transmits digital files can actually be seen as a potential weakness in certain areas. Fortunately, the expanding use of both encryption and other data security technologies are delivering robust solutions that address such concerns.

Benefits/opportunities

Despite all of the cautionary notes listed above, if you get it right then speech to text software can undoubtedly deliver significant benefits. Here’s just a few examples:

  • Talking is much faster than typing, you can dictate a document three times faster than you can type it.
  • Speech recognition technology can reduce repetitive tasks, freeing up time so that professionals can focus on other things like their clients, patients or other aspects of the business.
  • It also allows businesses to save money by automating processes and doing administrative tasks more quickly.
  • Document workflows can be streamlined – mobile workers can record information on the go, send an encrypted file to the office for checking/transcription, and receive the finished document for approval, thereby dramatically reducing turnround time.
  • The software can be accessed on multiple devices from personal computers, to laptops, tablets and smartphones, giving greater flexibility.

Philips SpeechLive is a highly secure dictation and transcription workflow solution which offers excellent speech recognition to turn your voice into text. To find out more about how secure SpeechLive is, visit our Data Security and Privacy page.

Take a look at our speech to text services

Article also available in German