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Speech Recognition Software

Speech Recognition software, also known as Voice Recognition software, allows computers to interpret human speech and transcribe it to text, or to translate text to speech. Voice recognition programs also allow users to use voice commands to control computers. Speech recognition products are used in interactive voice response (IVR) systems to help quickly route incoming calls to the correct destination. Speech Recognition software is related to IVR software. Find the best speech recognition software for your organisation in Australia.

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Speech Recognition Software Buyers Guide


Speech recognition software, otherwise known as dictation software, or voice recognition software, allows computers and other devices to interpret human speech, transcribe it into text format, or translate text to speech. It is widely used within the field of note-taking and can be especially valuable to anyone who needs to take quick notes while carrying out other tasks. Some of the most important features expected to be found within a high-quality voice to text app of this kind include audio capture, automatic transcription, text editing, and speech-to-text analysis.

One of the most significant benefits associated with speech recognition software is its ability to free up the user's hands during use. This is accomplished because the text is created through speech transcription rather than typing. In many fields, this can make multitasking much easier, allowing notes to be taken at the same time the user carries out a complex activity with their hands. As a result, productivity can also be greatly improved.

Speech recognition software powers many modern virtual assistants and can play a key role in call routing for many businesses and their customer support departments. It is closely related to interactive voice response (IVR) software, speech analytics software, and medical transcription software. Indeed, IVR solutions use speech recognition to understand callers and route calls to the correct location, while medical transcription software can be described as a specialised type of speech recognition software, designed for those in medical professions.

During the process of identifying the best dictation software, there are many different considerations that need to be weighed up, including the budget available, the size of the business, and the precise needs of employees. Additionally, it is important to take a closer look at the features that are available and ensure that the chosen solution can achieve what it needs to. While speech recognition software options do differ substantially in terms of the supplementary features available, most solutions on the market will offer the following:

  • Capture direct speech audio from a microphone, or import an audio file containing speech
  • Transcribe captured speech or imported audio into text format
  • View transcribed speech in text format and make amendments so that errors can be fixed
  • Analyse transcribed text to identify trends or pick out specific words or phrases
  • Convert speech to text from multiple languages and dialects from around the world

What is speech recognition software?

Speech recognition software is a type of voice-activated software designed to allow computers and other devices to interpret human speech and then transcribe it to text. Although generally categorised as speech-to-text software, many solutions can also translate text into speech too. The software is commonly used in a wide range of industries and professions, from medical or scientific research, through to retail-based customer support.

It is often deployed for the purposes of note-taking, although it can also be used to analyse customer communication, obtain accurate quotations from speeches, or convert audio into text format for any other reason. Speech recognition software powers many virtual assistants, and the software can be used as part of an interactive voice response system, which may be used to route telephone calls to the right department or location. In many cases, it functions primarily as dictation software, allowing the user to speak aloud as they carry out additional tasks.

Any good voice to text app will offer the advantage of freeing up the user's hands, allowing them to simultaneously take notes on a computer and carry out complex, manual tasks with their hands. This also means the best speech to text app solutions will have an accessibility component, allowing for the creation of text documents by people who may have disabilities and other health conditions that may make this difficult or impossible using a conventional keyboard.

What are the benefits of speech recognition software?

The benefits of speech recognition software are generally based on its ability to take direct speech or speech from audio files and accurately convert that into a text-based format. This function is useful in a wide range of industries and professions and can also benefit personal use. In particular, the following are all examples of some of the key ways that speech to text software can be beneficial:

  • Hands-free text creation: the ability to create text without using a keyboard means the user has their hands free the whole time. This can be essential in certain fields, including scientific and medical research because it allows users to carry out complex tasks using their hands while speaking aloud to create notes as they work. Such functionality can be advantageous when it comes to increasing overall productivity because it allows users to multitask more efficiently. In addition, it allows note-taking to be more accurate because notes can be made in the moment, regardless of what other work is being carried out, rather than being typed up after that work is done.
  • More efficient documentation: when users do not necessarily have access to a computer with a high-quality keyboard, speech recognition software can help to make documentation a more efficient process. This is especially true when using mobile devices. In fact, a study published in the Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies (IMWUT) journal found that, when using a mobile phone for creating text documents, speech recognition text input was almost three times faster than typing on a mobile keyboard when the language used was English, and a similar speed advantage was also true when the test was run using Mandarin.
  • Greater accuracy: in certain situations, speech recognition software can deliver superior accuracy than typing. A good example of this comes with transcribing audio or video. While humans may be able to transcribe audio and video fairly quickly, the trade-off for speed is often an increased chance of human error. By contrast, high-quality speech recognition software is now advanced enough to deliver a level of accuracy that may actually exceed the abilities of many people, and it can achieve this at rapid, almost instantaneous speeds, making it extremely beneficial for situations where quick and accurate transcriptions are the order of the day.
  • Automatic transcription: another major benefit associated with using speech recognition software is linked to the level of automation that is provided. When the software is able to receive audio input via a microphone or headset, or when it has access to an audio file, it can automatically transcribe the words that are said and then output them in a text format, without the need for any significant human intervention. Of course, most good solutions on the market will also include text editing as a feature, allowing amendments or corrections to be made.
  • Analysis of speeches: while it is relatively easy to analyse text because it can be re-read and because searches for specific words or phrases can be easily carried out, analysis of speeches is generally more difficult. Yet, with the assistance of a good voice to text software solution, this becomes much easier because the speech can be transcribed, and the features of the speech can be more easily understood. Many options on the market also include built-in speech to text analysis functionality, allowing much of this analysis to be automated.
  • Improved accessibility: there is a wide range of disabilities, learning difficulties, and other health conditions that can impact a user's ability to create text documents in a conventional way, using a keyboard. As an example, users who are blind or partially sighted may find it difficult or impossible to see what they are typing, while users with certain physical limitations may be unable to type. On top of this, people with dyslexia and other learning difficulties may be physically able to type but might find it difficult to accurately spell or understand grammar. A speech to text software package can be ideal for these scenarios because text documents can be created using the voice alone. With this in mind, voice recognition of any kind can help to improve overall accessibility.

What are the features of speech recognition software?

The features of speech recognition software are one of the main ways in which different products on the market can be separated. Generally, features can be broken down into core features, present in almost every package, common features, which would be expected in the best dictation app solutions, and optional features, which are less common and can help to make different packages distinct. With that being said, expect high-quality speech recognition software to contain most, if not all, of the following features:

  • Audio capture: record audio from an audio input device, or upload audio files for the software to transcribe. This ability to either directly input audio into the software, or import an audio file, provides a range of options for transcribing speech to text. Good software will be able to identify speech in an audio file, even if there are other sounds and background music included too.
  • Voice recognition: speak into a microphone and have the speech recognition software understand the words. Some of the optional features that fall under the voice recognition umbrella include the ability to detect various dialects and the ability to identify whether the voice is likely to be male or female. Some software solutions are also powered by machine learning capabilities, allowing the voice recognition functionality to get used to the user's voice, accent and patterns of speech, as well as improving accuracy over time. Additionally, voice recognition allows the transcribed text to separate different speakers for improved clarity.
  • Automatic transcription: automatically transcribe imported audio files, or audio input via a microphone, into text. The automation provided by high-quality speech recognition software allows speech to be converted to text quickly and with minimal intervention from the user. Additionally, advanced options on the market can automatically format the transcribed text, separating different speakers and recognising sentence structure.
  • Text editing: edit or amend the transcribed text through the use of an internal text editor. While high-quality speech recognition software will be able to transcribe speech into text with excellent accuracy, there may still be occasional mistakes or misunderstandings, and it is important that the chosen software allows this to be fixed. Moreover, there may need to be edits made to the transcribed text in order to create the required layout. While all options with a text editor will allow the text to be exported in a standard text format, top-of-the-range solutions will offer support for some of the most common word processor file formats, too, including Microsoft Word, Google Docs and Apple Pages.
  • Speech to text analysis: take transcriptions to the next level through the use of speech to text analysis tools. Such features can be used to identify key features within the transcribed text, such as the most common words used, the number of times words or phrases are used, and more. This then makes it much easier to analyse a speech, pick out key elements, identify significant trends, and interpret meaning. Speech to text analysis can be especially useful for customer support teams because it can identify the most common issues raised during phone calls and the similarities between different complaints. As a result, the team can report the information to business leaders, who can then address areas of weakness and improve customer satisfaction.
  • Call routing: direct phone calls to the right location automatically, based on what is being said. Aside from operating as dictation software, some speech recognition tools will also provide built-in call routing options. When this is deployed, a customer can call, answer some basic questions, and the speech recognition software can automatically understand the answers. It will then route the call to the right department or the most suitable employee. Ultimately, this means reduced waiting times and greater customer satisfaction.
  • Multi-language: transcribe speech in multiple languages. The most worthwhile products on the market will be able to understand and transcribe speech from a number of different languages and dialects. Additionally, top-of-the-range speech recognition software will include translation functionality, which will allow speeches made in one language to be transcribed into another language, resulting in automatic translations.

With the help of Capterra's speech recognition software directory, it is quick and easy to sort the available options based on the features they offer. As a result, it makes a search much easier by only displaying the software packages that actually contain the features, functions and qualities that are desired.

What should be considered when purchasing speech recognition software?

When purchasing speech recognition software, there are a number of things to keep in mind. One of the most important things to remember is that all speech recognition software is not created equally. Different products are aimed at different audiences, and the features they prioritise will reflect this. It is also important to remember to seek out the option that best suits the business-specific requirements rather than simply opting for the software that offers the greatest amount of features. After all, a software package could attract rave reviews and offer excellent options, yet lack an important feature that another solution on the market offers. Most buyers should also ask themselves the following questions when seeking out a speech recognition software solution:

  • What are the main features of the speech recognition software? Different solutions on the market will offer different features, and this can depend on what the software has been created for and who it is aimed at. Generally, most packages will contain similar core features, such as automatic transcription, audio capture, and text editing, but the supplementary features can vary substantially. The needs of a customer service team will be different from the needs of a medical researcher, so it is important to ask which features are actually needed and to then evaluate the available options with those needs firmly in mind.
  • What are the costs associated with speech recognition software? The costs associated with buying a product are always an important consideration, and it is crucial to adopt a holistic approach to evaluating this. Upfront costs are only one part of this equation, as it will also be necessary to consider the costs associated with implementing the software, training staff to use it, and accessing support when it is needed. Additionally, with Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, think about the ongoing costs associated with a subscription service, while with on-site deployment, think about setup, installation and storage costs.
  • What are the types of recognition software? Broadly speaking, speech recognition software solutions can be separated into two main types: speaker-dependent options and speaker-independent options. With speaker-dependent speech recognition, the software is designed to learn the speech patterns, dialect, and unique features of the user's voice. These options improve their speech recognition over time and are most commonly used for note-taking and other forms of dictation. By contrast, speaker-independent options are designed to recognise speech from multiple people, and these solutions are typically not designed to continuously improve by adapting to these speakers' voices. A speaker-independent solution might be used for call routing or customer support.
  • Is the software mobile-friendly or accessible remotely? A survey from 2020, carried out by Gartner, found that as many as 82 per cent of businesses intend to allow employees to work remotely, at least some of the time. On top of this, many professions require work to be carried out on the go—including while travelling—and this may require the use of a mobile app or mobile accessibility via the web. With this in mind, businesses that do offer remote working opportunities, and individuals who may require mobile access, will need to prioritise these things when exploring the available speech recognition software options and eventually making their decision.
  • Can speech recognition software be used with other tools? Compatibility is another major concern, and if the business has an established way of doing things, it can be difficult to implement a new software solution that is not compatible with current tools. With regards to speech recognition software, compatibility with devices and the current software setup are important. To provide an example, if documents are regularly created using Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, or Google Docs, a solution that allows transcribed text to be either saved in these file formats or easily transferred to those applications will be best. Similarly, if planning to use the speech recognition software for call routing purposes, check that it is compatible with the current CRM software package and any other tools that call centre agents regularly use.
  • Is the speech recognition software regularly updated? Finally, it is important to give consideration to updates and how they work with the chosen software package. Is the software still receiving updates? How regular are these updates? Are there any known issues with updating software? Software that no longer receives updates may have current or future security vulnerabilities that cannot be plugged, so knowing what the future of the software is likely to be can be just as important as knowing about its current state.

The most relevant speech recognition software trends, along with any wider technology trends, also need to be factored into any decision-making. In particular, think about the way technology is progressing and how this is likely to impact daily tasks and business practices. Understanding the emerging and anticipated trends that are relevant to the software in consideration is also vital for future-proofing. Therefore, the following trends need to be considered when buying speech recognition software:

  • The relationship between speech recognition and smart devices: The rise of the internet of things (IoT) has led to increased use of smart devices for a wide range of different applications, and speech recognition technology often goes hand-in-hand with such devices. As IoT devices become even more widespread, and as users become more familiar with voice-activated software in general, there is likely to be increased demand for more integration. This means that, in many cases, the ideal speech recognition software will go beyond simple dictation software, or call routing software, and will instead function as part of a wider ecosystem.
  • The growth of cloud-based software solutions: Cloud-based software solutions are gaining in popularity all the time, as businesses and individual users come to understand the benefits associated with lower upfront costs, increased data security, improved scalability, and remote accessibility. With this in mind, it is worth giving consideration to whether or not a cloud-based speech recognition software solution may be the best long-term option. At the same time, the cloud-based model will not suit everyone, and ongoing costs associated with a SaaS subscription model could end up being significantly more expensive than using on-site solutions.
  • Voice data and associated privacy concerns: Voice-activated applications do bring with them some concerns about privacy, and this can be especially true for cloud-based models, where a third party is involved in the handling of data. Users want to know how the software works, when their voice is recorded, what protections are in place to prevent the accidental collection of voice data, and who has access to voice data. Not only is it important to look into the answers to some of these questions, but it is also essential to be as transparent with employees as possible about how data will be obtained, stored, and kept secure.