Speech recognition allows you to dictate your text into
various programs such as Microsoft Word leaving you a little more hands-free.
You can open menu items, toolbars, dialog boxes, and have text typed in using
your own voice. In other words, your computer is literally at your command. And
here is how you do it.
In this article I will describe how to install and configure
speech recognition in Windows XP. The article assumes that your computer is
running Windows XP with at least service pack 1, Microsoft Office XP and that
it is equipped with a microphone.
You only require four things in order to use speech
recognition in Windows XP. These requirements include:
- Service Pack 1 (or later) for Windows XP
- Microsoft Speech Recognition Engine 5.0
- Application that supports speech recognition
The Microsoft Speech Recognition Engine (SRE) is not
included with Windows XP. You can acquire it by installing any of the Microsoft
Office XP/2003 applications or by purchasing and installing the Windows XP Plus
When it comes to applications that support speech
recognition, you do not necessarily need to go out and purchase new software.
Some applications that come with Windows XP, including Outlook Express and
Notepad support speech recognition. You just need to enable support of advanced
text services (as you will see later in this article).
Installing the speech
If you are unsure if the speech recognition engine is
already installed on the computer, you can check the Speech Properties dialog
box as seen in Figure A. Within the Control Panel, open the Speech applet. If
there is no Speech Recognition tab available from the Speech Properties dialog
box, the engine has not been installed.
|If the Speech Recognition tab is not available, the speech recognition
engine has not been installed.
You can install the SRE by completing the steps below. This
method requires you to have the Microsoft Office XP installation CD on hand.
Start and click Control Panel.
click Add or Remove Programs.
Change or Remove Programs and click Microsoft Office XP.
Add or Remove Features and click Next.
the list of features to install, double click Office Shared Features.
click Alternative User Input.
Speech and click the down arrow, as seen in Figure B.
|Installing the speech recognition engine using the Add or Remove Programs
Run from My Computer.
the Update button.
Once the SRE has been added, you can enable it in any of the
Microsoft Office applications. For example, in Microsoft Word, click the Speech
option from the Tools menu. If prompted, insert the Microsoft Office XP
installation CD to complete the installation.
speech recognition settings
The speech recognition engine can be controlled using the
Speech applet in the control panel. The settings that can be configured on the
Speech Recognition tab include the following:
- Speech Recognition Engine settings
- Speech Recognition profile settings
- Speech recognition accuracy
- Microphone settings
Speech Recognition Engine Settings
From the Speech Recognition tab, you can select the SRE to
use. If multiple engines are installed, you can use the drop down arrow under
the Language section to select which one to use. Some engines will also support
special features. You can click the Settings button beside the SRE to configure
such features, as seen in Figure C. If the Settings button is not available, it
simply means that the engine selected does not support any custom features.
|Speech Recognition settings can be controlled through the Speech applet.|
Speech recognition profile settings
Windows XP stores recognition profiles. The information
stored within a profile is used to recognize your voice. You can create
different profiles for different users or for different noise environments. To
change speech recognition profile setting options, use the steps listed below:
Start and click Control Panel.
click the Speech applet.
the Speech Recognition tab.
Recognition Profiles, highlight the profile you want to configure.
the Settings button.
the sliders to configure the following two options:
allows you to control the confidence level. Moving the slider to tells Windows
XP that you want the computer to reject any command when it is not confident of
what you said. When you use this setting, the computer makes fewer recognition
errors but more frequently rejects your commands. Therefore, you may have to
enunciate more slowly and clearly. By moving the slider to Low sensitivity,
Windows XP will respond to your command when it has almost no confidence that
it has correctly recognized what you said. When you use this setting, the
computer recognizes fewer commands but rarely rejects a command. This option
affects only command and control programs.
This setting allows you to configure the accuracy/response time. When you move
the slider to the Low/Fast setting, the computer performs limited processing.
The recognized text appears on the screen quickly but with low accuracy. Conversely,
by using the High/Slow setting, the computer processes more for higher accuracy
but produces the dictated text more slowly. This option affects
command-and-control programs and dictation programs.
Click Ok once you have made your configuration changes to return to the Speech
Training your profile
Under the Recognition Profiles section, you will also see an
addition button called Train Profile. This allows you to train your profile to
improve speech recognition accuracy. The more the speech engine knows about
your particular style of speaking and the sounds in your environment, the more
accurate it will be.
When you click the Train Profile button, the Voice Training
Wizard will appear. The wizard will collect voice samples from you so that it
can adjust to your particular speaking style.
Finally, at the bottom of the Speech Recognition tab, you
can configure microphone settings. Keep in mind that speech recognition
performance is dependent on the type of microphone you are using and different
microphones will have specific requirements.
The Microphone Wizard will appear once you click the
Configure Microphone button. The wizard will walk you through the process of
configuring and testing your microphone for use with speech recognition.
Getting ready to use speech recognition
Assuming that you have completed all the tasks described
above, you are almost ready to start using speech recognition in Windows XP.
Open the Regional and Language Options applet within the Control Panel. On the
Languages tab, click the Details button. The Text Services and Input Languages
dialog box will appear.
Under Installed services, select Speech Recognition and
click the Properties button. The Speech input settings dialog box will appear
as shown in Figure D.
|Configuring various speech input settings|
Click OK after you have configured the Advanced settings.
The Language Bar button is used to configure how you want the Language Bar to
appear. The available options include the following:
The Advanced tab of the Text Services and Input Languages
dialog box is used to configure how Windows XP interacts with the Speech
Recognition Engine. Place a check beside the Extend support of advanced text
services to all programs. Click OK and click Yes to restart your computer.
After logging on, the Language Bar will now appear on the desktop and you can
begin talking to your computer.
Using speech recognition
At this point, you need to know a little about the two
different input modes: Dictation and Voice Command. Dictation Mode is used when
you want the words you speak turned into text. For example, instead of typing a
document, you can use Dictation mode.
As you speak, the text is displayed in your document. Voice
Command mode is used to select menu items, toolbar items, open dialog boxes,
and task pane items. If you wanted to format selected text in your document as
bold, you would switch to Voice Command mode and say “Bold”. You can
change between Dictation and Voice Command mode by clicking the appropriate
buttons on the Language bar or you can simply say “Dictation” or “Voice
You can now try out the speech recognition capabilities of
Windows XP. Open a program such as Microsoft Word or Notepad and click the
Microphone icon on the Language bar. Click or say “Dictation” and start
talking. Word will automatically start entering your text. With a little
self-exploration you will soon see the benefit of speech-recognition
Speak and be heard
Whether you are entering data, editing, or gaming, the
Speech Recognition technology in Windows XP is a great way for you to enhance
your experience. Tapping into the technology only requires a microphone, speech
recognition engine, and a few configuration updates. Windows XP will then be
ready to convert your spoken words into text.