Business Info recently spoke to Andy Rawlings, national account manager for professional audio at Olympus, and Brian Hart, managing director of DMCL, about the evolution of digital dictation. Here is an edited version of that interview.
Business Info (BI): How has dictation changed over the years?
Brian Hart (BH): In the early days, going back twenty, twenty-five years or more, everything was done on a cassette and it’s now evolved into digital dictation. With digital dictation your equipment is far lighter, smaller and easy to carry around.
Andy Rawlings (AR): When I joined Olympus eight years ago everybody looked at digital dictation and workﬂow, which meant you made a dictation, downloaded it and it was sent to a secretary to be typed. Gradually over time people are looking at speech recognition which is a huge move forward in technology. There’s two forms of speech recognition, one is front-end, which is where you speak into a microphone or a dictation device and it prints it up in front of you just like you were typing into a computer but speech to text, and the second one is back-end speech recognition which is where you dictate into a dictation device like an Olympus DS7000, download it and it will turn that voice file into text, so no typing involved. Back-end minimises the time that the secretary has to type and they may just proof read it.
(BI): What are some interesting applications for dictation?
BH: We’ve equipped pathology departments, where the doctors cannot touch dictation equipment so they use a foot control plugged into a portable recorder with a directional microphone. Dictation is done while they are dissecting parts of their work.
AR: We’ve also had dealings with COT loss adjusters, who adjust your car when you have an accident. They used to use a tape recorder and it may take a week or ten days to get their report typed up. They now use a device and then download it onto a PC and send it across. We just recently had a loss adjuster who would make the dictation, go back and use back-end speech recognition so he could copy and paste it into a report and give it to the client more or less immediately. They have something like a twenty-four-hour turnaround now where previously it may have taken up to two or three weeks to get that report.
(BI): RecMic II is one of your most recent product launches, why is the choice of microphone so important for speech recognition?
AR: Speech recognition can be affected by noisy surroundings, such as traffic and people talking, especially in open plan offices. We’ve developed the RecMic II with a specialist noise cancellation microphone, which means you can record without it capturing the surrounding sound, it just captures your voice. To date we’ve had very good results with it; I was visiting a customer last week who was using it and a fire engine went past, quite loud noise, and the speech to text was 100% correct. On some of the older microphones that may not have been the case because it would have picked the sound up.
We were also joined by Wayne Chodosh, director of The PDF Pen Company, who has combined the Olympus RecMic with Dragon speech recognition software to create Talk to Type.
Business Info (BI): Who might benefit from using Talk to Type?
Wayne Chodosh: I went to see a small firm of solicitors who were complaining that they had a lot of dictation and not enough people to type up this dictation and they tried it and it’s been revolutionary for them. It started off with one partner and now all four partners use it extensively, particularly for case notes and for letters.
There are a lot of seniors who don’t like using a keyboard or have got a physical ailment that prohibits them from using a keyboard easily. Only yesterday I was talking to a gentleman who had retired and wanted to fll his time by writing a book. He was writing his life story for his family as a keepsake and he was very unhappy using a keyboard, so he contacted me and I supplied him this lovely Olympus microphone along with the speech recognition software and he called me to tell me that he had just finished some chapters containing 20,000 words in a quarter of the time that it would have taken him to type it.
Talk to Type is there to try and service these people and introduce them to the benefits of using an Olympus RecMic along with the software that we provide, it’s a very reasonably priced package that can help so many people.