I admit it. I'm addicted to racking up as many steps as possible on my Fitbit. However, I do not plan to buy a pricey treadmill desk to feed my step addiction. I searched for apps that can help me get steps while I work, and I found one: Nuance's Dragon Remote Microphone, which is free for Android and iOS.
Dragon Remote Microphone turns your smartphone into a microphone that can be used to translate spoken words to text and then enter it into word processing apps (and other software) on PCs and Macs. That means you can walk around your office (preferably with the door closed) and dictate a text document or email, as long as your smartphone and computer are on the same Wi-Fi network. You can even walk into another room, though accuracy degrades, at least in my experience.
For comfort, you'll probably want to wear earbuds with an in-line microphone as you dictate. I used the Apple buds that came with my iPhone, and they worked beautifully.
Dictating instead of typing takes some getting used to, and if you're a fast typist, dictation will probably slow you down. Nuance's speech recognition tools are excellent, however, and the system is extremely accurate.
You need to invest $150 in either Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium for Windows or Dragon Dictate for Mac to use Dragon's app on your mobile phone for dictation into Word, Pages or another text editor on your computer. That's a lot to pay, unless you're really committed to upping your steps, don't mind walking in circles in your office all day, and could benefit from less typing. (Repetitive strain injuries can be a very real issues for those who type all day.)
Dragon also offers a free Dragon Recorder app for Android and iOS, which lets you dictate words, save them and then use the desktop Dragon software to transcribe the file to text later. In theory, you could dictate a text document while you're out walking, but ambient noise can interfere with accuracy. The transcription feature also doesn't understand formatting commands very well in my experience. For example, commands such as "new paragraph" were transcribed as the actual words "new paragraph," instead of starting the next sentence with a new paragraph.
Your smartphone will also likely time out as you dictate, and you'll have to turn it back on to keep using the microphone or temporarily change your settings so it won't time out automatically.
There are other ways to rack up steps while dictating text to a computer, of course. For example, you could dictate notes using the iPhone's Notes app. Then when you sync your iPhone, the notes appear in the Notes app on your Mac. From there, you can copy and paste the text into the appropriate document, but this process doesn't work very well for lengthy, formatted documents.
You can also use a Bluetooth (or regular) headset to dictate text to a Mac or Windows computer as you walk around your office. Macs and PCs both support text dictation for free, but you need to buy a Bluetooth headset, and the speech recognition tech built into the OS isn't quite as polished (or in some cases, as accurate) as Dragon's system.
Will you look silly walking around your office yelling at your phone or your computer? Probably, but you'll sure look good on the Fitbit leaderboard.
This story, "3 easy ways to rack up Fitbit steps while you work" was originally published by CIO.