The legendary science fiction writer and 20th century soothsayer Arthur C Clarke famously wrote “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. If you have a relatively cheap bit of hardware like an Alexa or a Google doohicky, you’ll be familiar with the wonder when you say something from an adjacent room, and it not only understands you but gives you a response immediately.
And when you’re leaning directly over it shouting “Alexa! STOP!” and it bravely blinks while continuing whatever it was doing, you’ll no doubt curse how stupid the thing is, even though from a computer science perspective, what happens most of the time is truly remarkable. In 1986, it certainly seemed like something belonging to the technological era of dilithium crystals.
We’re now used to giving voice commands to our phone, or to our car – yet many people don’t speak to their PC. Maybe it’s a legacy of not wanting to look like an eejit sitting in an open plan office talking to your computer. Now that most of us are still WFH, though, does it matter?
Windows 10 had a dictation feature which has been overhauled for Windows 11 – launch it by pressing WindowsKey + H and you’ll get a pop up which will let you dictate into any application or text box – just click the microphone icon to get started.
Settings allow you to auto-punctuate (though maybe not quite as nuanced as one might want), and to keep the voice typing function closer to hand so by enabling the launcher, you can start dictation just by pressing Win+H rather than having to click the mic icon first.
Give it a try – start reading aloud at normal speed from a book or a magazine and here’s betting you will be amazed at the speed and accuracy. It’s certainly quicker than typing, for most people.
For more detail, check out Use voice typing to talk instead of type on your PC (microsoft.com)