From Pickin' Cotton to Speech Recognition

By Martin July 26, 2010

From Pickin' Cotton to Speech Recognition

By: Martin

In my sixty-one years of life, I've seen a tremendous technology leap.  As I was growing up on the farm, when I was eight years old, I picked cotton by hand.  When I was fourteen, I picked cotton with a totally mechanized two row cotton picker.  Also, when I was eight years old, I hoed cotton and soybeans to remove the weeds in the field -  by the time I was fifteen I saw the development of herbicides to control weed growth, and later saw the development of engineered seeds that improved yield and allowed the use the Round-up to control weeds without hurting the crop.

As an engineer in the manufacturing and assembly industry, I saw the implementation of computers, computer control equipment, and robots.  I saw the continuous improvement in product efficiency and cost, and one of my favorite memories was the implementation of cad drafting.

In the short four and a half years since my spinal cord injury, I have seen a big improvement in the development of computer access technology for quads.  When I was in a rehab hospital in Denver, I was introduced to speech recognition by Dragon.  At that time it did not work very well for me because of my weak and inconsistent voice, but I could see where that system would have great potential in the future as my voice improved and the software improved.  After I got home from the rehab hospital, my friends from work upgraded my computer system and gave me version 9 of the Dragon speech recognition program.  This worked better than the original version that I tried in Denver, but was still inconsistent.  The big breakthrough came when Tom from InvoTek introduced me to AccuKeys.  I was then able to make corrections and edits that I could not previously do with Dragon.  I was then able to surf the web, use word, Excel and other programs without asking my wife to change programs or to help in other ways.  I was a new man and felt a tremendous freedom that I had previously not had.  Since then, I have upgraded to version 10 of the Dragon software, which is much better than nine but still not foolproof.  I still have to use AccuKeys to make edits and corrections.  I am now looking forward to a trial on InvoTek's speech recognition program that they have just completed.

The fast development of technology in my lifetime, shows that the promise of future technology improvements, is going to continue at an even faster rate.