Dragon Naturally Speaking is a piece of software primarily used by those who have difficulty typing due to physical, cognitive, or other challenges. It allows users to dictate text and use voice commands to control the computer. When controlling the computer with Dragon Naturally Speaking, users can either speak the name of an element they would like to activate or use a coordinate-based grid to speak the exact coordinates of the part of the screen they’re interested in working with. In order to make use of the software as efficient as possible, Dragon Naturally Speaking allows users to train the software on their voice, allowing it to learn over time and provide the best possible recognition results for them. The platform also allows users to customize and configure every command to best serve the needs of each individual user.
Originally released by Dragon Systems as “Dragon Dictate for DOS,” the early versions of the software were unable to recognize the boundaries between words, due to limitations in computing power at the time. Instead, users had to clearly enunciate every word, with a pause between each one. It wasn’t until 1997, with the release of the first version of Dragon Naturally Speaking for Windows, that users could speak with a relatively normal pace and intonation. A version of Dragon Naturally Speaking for Mac was also released, but because Mac voice recognition software is built into the operating system, Dragon Naturally Speaking remains most popular on Windows.
As the software improved, it also became popular in legal and medical fields, where typing was not always possible or desirable. Different versions of the software, better trained to recognize specialized medical and legal terms, were released for sale in these markets. Out of a desire to enter the healthcare technology field, Microsoft purchased Nuance, the makers of Dragon Naturally Speaking, in April 2021.