I was reading Tim Long's recent post on Windows Vista Speech Recognition, and it piqued my curiosity. In his post, he took a typing test once by typing, and once using Windows Speech Recognition (WSR). His results made me wonder just how fast I am these days with WSR.

So ... I took the test too. Here are my results:

Typing -- Words per minute: 98 -- Accuracy: 95.2%

I've always prided myself on how fast I can type. I mean, after all, I've been typing for a long long time.

I even had a job in high school (20 years ago) where I was paid per item I entered into a computer. It was a good incentive to learn how to type as best I could. My effective rate per hour went up from about $5/hr to around $30/hr. That was a very nice rate as a 17 year old...

Speech Recognition -- Words per minute: 142.5 -- Accuracy: 93.9%

That's 45% faster with Speech Recognition, even for a guy who already types nearly 100 words per minute!! And as you can see, my accuracy with speech only dropped a tiny bit (from 95.2 to 93.9 -- just over 1% absolute).

Now, some of you might say, "Rob! You only got ~94% accuracy? I thought the speech recognition system in Vista was better than that?" Truth be told, it is on average better than that for me. I definitely get better results than that for what I'm speaking when I'm writing my own prose.

There are three key reasons why in this test I only got 93.9%:

1.) The test I took used UK spellings for many words and I was using the US English recognizer. So every place I should have had "colour" I had "color". Etc ... This accounted for several of the errors, and thus my accuracy with this error corrected would have made my accuracy with SR even better than my typing accuracy.

2.) The WSR system adapts to your writing style over time. Since I've been using the system for a long time, it's adjusted quite a bit toward the frequency of occurrence of words I use in my text. This language model adaptation is one of the reasons speech recognition gets better the more you use it...

3.) Also, to better represent what the "average" user might do, I didn't use a high quality headset microphone. Instead I used an array microphone (which I actually use for most tasks with Windows). When I strap on the headset microphone I consistently get an additional bump in accuracy.

How fast do you type? How fast can you speak?

If you have Vista, you should take the test yourself. You'll be surprised on much faster you can speak compared with how fast you can type.