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History of Voice (Speech) Recognition

One of the most notable domains for the commercial application of speech recognition in the United States has been health care and in particular the work of the medical transcriptionist (MT).

According to industry experts, at its inception, speech recognition (SR) was sold as a way to completely eliminate transcription rather than make the transcription process more efficient, hence it was not accepted. It was also the case that SR at that time was often technically deficient. Additionally, to be used effectively, it required changes to the ways physicians worked and documented clinical encounters, which many if not all were reluctant to do.

The biggest limitation to speech recognition automating transcription, however, is seen as the software. The nature of narrative dictation is highly interpretive and often requires judgment that may be provided by a real human but not yet by an automated system. Another limitation has been the extensive amount of time required by the user and/or system provider to train the software.

A distinction in ASR is often made between "artificial syntax systems" which are usually domain-specific and "natural language processing" which is usually language-specific. Each of these types of application presents its own particular goals and challenges.


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