Google has announced an automatic subtitling (or ‘captions’, as the Americans call it) service for YouTube videos, using the ‘automatic speech recognition’ (ASR) technology currently employed in the transcription feature of Google Voice.
Users uploading videos will be given two options to automatically add the subtitles. The first one is ‘auto-timing’, as described by YouTube: “Upload a transcript (a simple file with the text of what’s said in the video), and through speech recognition technology we’ll turn it into synchronized captions. Timing is the toughest part of creating captions, but now this should be much easier. The technology works best for videos with good sound quality and clear spoken English.”
The second option is to use ‘auto-captions’: which uses the same speech recognition technology to create machine-generated captions (which can then be translated into 51 languages). YouTube already uses this on a range of educational channels, such as UC Berkeley, Stanford, MIT, Yale, UCLA, Duke, UCTV, Columbia, PBS, National Geographic, Demand Media, UNSW and most Google channels, including YouTube’s.
“Auto-caps is a continued step towards YouTube’s goal of making video accessible everywhere (web, mobile, TV) and to everyone (other countries, languages, alternative access modes). It’s also an example of using technology to enhance the video experience,” according to the company on its own blog.