Microsoft Garage releases Dictate a new voice input add-in for Office that works with the Windows versions of Outlook, Word, and PowerPoint. Dictate is powered by the same speech recognition technology that Cortana uses in order to convert your speech to text.
The company on Tuesday rolled out the Dictate plugin, which uses the same Cognitive Services algorithms that power face recognition, language translation, and many other AI capabilities available to clients of Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform
This is a refurbished software which already existed. In fact, both Microsoft and Apple include basic dictation functionality in their respective desktop operating systems, not to mention popular offerings like Nuance’s popular line of Dragon speech recognition software.
The idea for Dictate emerged from a hackathon project, notes Microsoft, and afterward was used internally at Microsoft by over 1,500 employees across 40 countries.
The add-in to some extent competes with other solutions, like Nuance’s support for dictation in Office 365 or Office 365 Online
This add-on is important for a couple of reasons
- First, it hails from Microsoft Garage, the company’s experimental app unit.
- Secondly, it uses artificial intelligence (AI) and speech recognition technologies found in the company’s Cognitive Services slate and Cortana virtual assistant to turn spoken words into on-screen text.
The plugin enables transcribing voice in more than 20 languages and also supports real-time text translation of up to 60 languages. Spoken commands give users the ability to create new lines, delete, add punctuation and more to format the text
However, it offers support for a number of commands, like “new line,” “stop dictation,” and “enter,” as well as other punctuation marks and actions. You can also choose to insert your punctuation manually or allow the software to do it automatically as you speak.
It was initially built as a prototype, which somehow got a lot of exposure.
- New Line
- Stop Dictation
- Full Stop
- Question Mark
- Open Quote
- Close Quote
Once the add-in is installed, a new menu appears in the productivity app’s toolbar, allowing you to click to begin your dictation. It also at launch supports more than 20 languages for dictation and can translate in real-time into 60 languages.
The add-in works on Office 32-bit and 64-bit, and requires that users are in Windows 8.1 or later, Office 2013 or higher, and the.Net Framework 4.5.0 or later.
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Nuance demonstrated some of the new capabilities of its Dragon Drive automotive assistant software in a customized Chrysler Pacifica. Select BMW vehicles already feature some Dragon Drive capabilities, like allowing front-seat passengers to control the infotainment system.
The add-in to some extent competes with other solutions, like Nuance’s support for dictation in Office 365 or Office 365 Online, for example, or even built-in OS-level support for dictation, which is already a feature found in both the Windows and the Mac operating systems, for future purpose.