Two weeks ago in Oklahoma City at the “Oral History for the 21st Century” symposium, I mentioned in my presentation that the transcription power of Google Voice suggested that exciting new transcription possibilities are on the horizon for oral historians. On November 19th, Google announced new functionality for YouTube including automatic annotations and language translation functions for uploaded videos. In the official Google blog post, “Automatic captions in YouTube,” Google announced:

…we’ve combined Google’s automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology with the YouTube caption system to offer automatic captions, or auto-caps for short. Auto-caps use the same voice recognition algorithms in Google Voice to automatically generate captions for video. The captions will not always be perfect (check out the video below for an amusing example), but even when they’re off, they can still be helpful—and the technology will continue to improve with time.

In addition to automatic captions, we’re also launching automatic caption timing, or auto-timing, to make it significantly easier to create captions manually. With auto-timing, you no longer need to have special expertise to create your own captions in YouTube. All you need to do is create a simple text file with all the words in the video and we’ll use Google’s ASR technology to figure out when the words are spoken and create captions for your video. This should significantly lower the barriers for video owners who want to add captions, but who don’t have the time or resources to create professional caption tracks.

These announcements are timely considering our desire to promote greater accessibility for the K-12 Online Conference next month. This year we’re again using DotSub to encourage multi-lingual subtitling of videos. If we can arrange to publish our longer videos on YouTube, it would be great to try out these automated annotation options. It appears that to participate in YouTube’s Partner Program for Nonprofits, an organization “must have current IRS 501(c)(3) status.” Since K12Online is not an official organization, I don’t think we can do this. If you have ideas or suggestions on this topic, please let me know.

I’m very enthused to see the power of Google Voice’s transcriptions coming to video. 🙂 Check out the video “Automatic Captions in YouTube Demo” for more details on this exciting breakthrough.

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One Response to Power of Google Voice Transcriptions comes to YouTube with Automatic Annotations

  1. James Deaton says:

    I’m glad to hear your take on this news. Closed-captioning has been a popular topic around the office lately so the announcement was indeed timely. It actually got me excited enough to do a blog post as well – you know how rare that is. In fact, it kept me up way too late Friday morning.

    I do hope that this technology becomes more accessible to everyone. It’s frustrating to know that so many learners who could benefit are blocked from YouTube.

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