Redstart Systems and Utter Command: a brief history

Redstart Systems was born of user frustration and disappointment with speech software that seemed to fall far short of its potential.

In 1993 the heavy computer use of a deadline journalist caught up with me in the form of severe repetitive stress injuries in both hands. The good news was desktop speech recognition had just arrived. The bad news was it wasn’t really practical to use. Recognition wasn’t great, commands were difficult to remember and commanding a computer using speech was just plain slow.

More than a decade later recognition has improved dramatically — the NaturallySpeaking speech engine makes dictating to a computer quite accurate. Commands, however, are still difficult to remember and often slower than the keyboard and mouse, making things like bringing up files, editing and formatting, cutting and pasting, setting up email messages, and Web research more than a little tedious.

Utter Command is the product of a decade of frustration and experimentation with a component of speech-recognition that has lagged behind efforts to improve dictation accuracy — the speech user interface, or words you use to control the computer.

Utter Command works the way your brain does and makes controlling your computer using speech commands cognitively easy and blazingly fast. Really. Commands are underpinned by an organized grammar system informed by cutting edge research in cognition, linguistics, networking and human behavior. This makes commands easy to remember and, more importantly, gives you the ability to combine commands, which not only speeds everything up but enables more than is possible using just the keyboard and mouse.

Instead of following in the footsteps of the keyboard and mouse, Utter Command allows you to fly along by carrying out many computer steps at once. Take a look at someone humming along on the keyboard and mouse and notice how many steps everything takes. Most of these steps are only necessary because keys and screen space are limited. If you don’t have to think between steps, there’s no need for separate steps other than to accommodate the computer.

Here’s a quiz for you:

How many steps should you have to go through to

a. Navigate to a folder you already know the name of

b. Navigate to a file you already know the name of

c. Set up an email message to a couple of friends and CC a couple more

d. Search for the definition of “prosody” on a particular Web site

(Our answers are at the bottom of this post.)

It’s high time we stopped accommodating the computer.

We’re getting ready — interface-wise — to cross over to a world where speech commands will untether you from the keyboard and kick your computer use into high gear.

In this world you’ll have choices — for everything you do on the computer you can use speech, the keyboard, or the mouse. And if you need to use speech all the time, Utter Command allows you to do everything by speech that you can using the mouse and keyboard.

a. 1 step b. 1 step c. 1 step d. 1 step

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