Monday, September 17, 2007

Speech Recognition

Professional marketers are in the business of selling the "sizzle"rather than the teak. Quite often, their ability to deliver a product which matches the public's expectations is minimal.

When President Clinton made his pitch for healthcare reform he tried to promote the vision of a healthcare industry where, by running a patient's personal identification card through a scanning device that could read the information encoded on the card's magnetic strip, any computer -- anywhere-- would be able to access the patient's medical record.

For fans of virtual reality, President Clinton's idea was a nice little fantasy. For computer realists, it represented an absolute nightmare.

With new multimedia applications being introduced each month (and with telephone companies uniting with cable TV to deliver the movie of your choice to your home computer) the possibilities in electronic media are staggering.

The promise is great. But let's look at the reality of the situation:

Ever since the concept of the computer-based patient record was introduced to the healthcare industry, people have been talking about doctors being able to dictate their reports directly into a computer's word-processing program. To their minds, once this becomes a reality, medical transcriptionists will be forced into obsolescence.

These people have obviously not spent a great deal of time listening to doctors dictate!

Several powerful speech recognition products have entered the marketplace which allow a user to "talk" to the computer. With some programs, the human voice can instruct the computer to perform routine tasks. This greatly diminishes (but does not totally eliminate) the need for a person to use a mouse or keyboard.
Some speech recognition systems have even been aggressively being marketed to lawyers, hospital executives and physicians as the answer to their transcription woes. For people who are new to computers, afraid of computers, or thinking of buying their first computer, the come-ons for these products are extremely seductive.

That seductiveness results from clever marketing that has little to do with real life. Speech recognition systems have the potential to enhance computer automation by teaching computers to respond to the sounds of a human voice.

However, all one has to do is watch this priceless YouTube video to see what can go wrong:

Next: Speech Recognition: The Promise

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