When I was at Build 2017 in Seattle earlier this year I had the opportunity to take an abbreviated version of the full 2 1/2 day Microsoft Underground Tour.
During our 8 hour tour and behind the scenes look at the Microsoft Campus, one of the spots we visited was the Microsoft Garage. This is a spot where employee's can undertake projects of their own choosing with the full support of the company. There is also an annual Hackathon sponsored by The Garage that encourages teams of employees' to come together and work on new ideas and concepts.
One of those projects that was born out of a Microsoft Hackathon, Dictate, just got released publicly to anyone running either the 32 or 64 bit version of Windows.
Dictate is an add-in for Microsoft Office Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook that uses Microsoft Cognitive Services, the Bing Speech API, and Microsoft Translator. These are the same technologies behind Microsoft's Cortana personal digital assistant that is part of Windows 10.
Currently Dictate has the ability to turn voice into text from over 20 languages and supports real-time text translation of almost 60 languages.
When it was released following that Microsoft Hackathon, it became popular very quickly and was being used by more than 1500 users at Microsoft spread across more than 40 countries.
That small catalysts of a project is now being improved through the collaboration of Microsoft AI, Research, and Office teams and is being released through the Microsoft Garage for any desktop Office user to install and use.
You can download Dictate for either 32 or 64 bit versions of Office from the Dictate website to get started. That site also contains the list of commands that Dictate will recognize when you are actively using it in Word, Outlook, or PowerPoint.
Once Dictate is installed you will discover a new tab in these programs labeled Dictation. Just select that and then select the Start button on the far left side of the Dictation Ribbon. I noticed a small delay before my system was ready to dictate but once it got going I tried it out in a very loud and noisy coffee shop.
See my results below in that scenario:
To be honest, I was surprised at how well it did in such a loud environment. Of course, some editing will be required with any piece of text you create but with the advances behind voice recognition that we are experiencing across all of our devices it is getting better all the time.
Will you try something like Dictate or do you prefer the traditional method of typing to create documents adn emails?