Nuance Adapts Its Desktop Dragon Dictation Software For Mobile Devices

People who find it easier to write reports and other text documents by using Nuance Communications’ Dragon dictation software for the desktop will soon have another option—dictating from their mobile devices.

Burlington, MA-based Nuance (NASDAQ: NUAN) announced the launch of four new products today—including updates of its desktop software. But the really new twist is its mobile application Dragon Anywhere.

Mobile device users can already dictate short posts such as text messages through built-in functions such as Apple’s Siri and Google Voice for Android devices. The Dragon Anywhere service allows them to dictate lengthy documents, and also edit and format them with voice commands. They’ll be able to move blocks of text, insert phrases, and mark words in bold or italics, for example.

What makes this possible is that the user’s speech will be processed by Nuance’s Web-based voice recognition engines, rather than by the internal processing power of the device alone. The text transcription will be preserved in Web-based storage, and can be exported to the cloud storage spot of the users’ choice, such as Dropbox or their company’s server. Individuals can use any number of their personal devices with their Dragon Anywhere accounts.

Dragon Anywhere can serve as a standalone product, but its output can also be integrated with the revamped desktop programs Nuance also announced today— Dragon Professional Individual, Dragon Professional Group, and version 5 of Dragon for Mac.

Using a combination of Dragon products, travel writers could dictate their first impressions of a new city into a device, send the text to a cloud storage site, and then open the file once they’re back at the office with the desktop Dragon Professional Individual software, which they can use to do revisions and fine editing with voice commands.

Social service workers could dictate field reports into their smartphones and store them in a shared server managed by their agencies, which could use the desktop Dragon Professional Group software to manage and work with the incoming files. Businesses can buy a group version of Dragon Anywhere with user-based licensing for staffers in the field.

Dragon desktop dictation software has long been an alternative to keyboard work for hunt-and-peck typists, people with repetitive strain injury or other physical limitations, and workers such as doctors who must produce large numbers of reports. Now, with its networked mobile products, Nuance is bidding for a broader market among tens of millions of professionals such as lawyers, law enforcement officers, and building inspectors, as well as the organizations they work for, says Peter Mahoney, chief marketing officer for the company’s Dragon line. No competitor offers a similar product, he maintains.

“Dragon Anywhere is unique; there’s nothing like it,” Mahoney says. Existing voice-to-text transcription features on mobile devices “time out” after a limited batch of speech, while Dragon Anywhere lets the speaker talk on at will, he says.

Some new Dragon customers may come from the ranks of workers who have been quite content to type in the office, but now have an increasing need to produce full text documents on the go with their devices, Mahoney says.

“Typing in a mobile world is just not a very good alternative,” Mahoney says.

Dragon Professional Group is currently available at $600. The Dragon Anywhere mobile app for iOS and Android will be sold this fall through the App Store and Google Play as a subscription service at $15 per month or $150 a year.

Downloads (with perpetual licenses) of Dragon Professional Individual will cost $300; for the new Dragon for Mac it’s $200. Individual customers who have older versions of Dragon Professional and Dragon for Mac will get discounts if they upgrade to the corresponding new products.

Nuance is billing its Web-connected product suite as a productivity booster for businesses and other organizations, with the slogan “Voice is ready for work.” The usefulness of Dragon Anywhere may depend on the specific circumstances for each worker. For example, a lawyer would need a private spot to speak aloud about confidential litigation matters while working outside the office. Mahoney says social service case workers now retreat to their cars to dictate reports about a visit they’ve just made to a family needing help.

Professionals reporting out loud on confidential or proprietary information will also need their private spot to have a good Internet connection. Dragon Anywhere relies on Nuance’s Web-based processing to produce voice transcripts. Mobile users can’t … Next Page »

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Bernadette Tansey is Xconomy's San Francisco Editor. You can reach her at btansey@xconomy.com. Follow @Tansey_Xconomy

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