Speech recognition seems to have been the coming technology since I don’t know when  – I seem to recall seeing DragonDictate in the late 90s – but it is one of those technologies that never seems to have arrived as a first-class way of entering information into a computer or getting it to do what you want. When I first booted up my new PC last year, I noticed that speech recognition was now built into Windows 7 and while it’s not at all bad, I probably don’t use it often enough to become really productive.

For an exercise, this morning I tried it with Lightroom and was quite surprised how well it allowed me to navigate around the program. For example I could move around the modules or select individual panels, but I kept hitting limitations – selecting one collection in the collection panel has been beyond me, as has activating the box in Keywording where you can type in words. On the other hand, once you are in the right context it’s possible to gain a little speed, especially if you know your keyboard shortcuts. So by preceding the shortcut with the instruction “Type” it’s possible to do things such as set ratings or pick flags, by saying “Type P”, “Type U” or “Type X” are the equivalent  of hitting P, U or X, and the same applies to stars and labels, while “Type G” or “Type E” allowed me to switch between Grid and Loupe views. Other tasks like entering keywords were possible, but once once I’d manually entered the correct area in a panel. And it still seems very slow though. Anyone out there using speech recognition with Lightroom? Is it just a matter of persevering until I’ve enough experience of the speech recognition tool’s foibles? Or is it a technology that still lies just beyond effective reach?