Real-Time Continuous Transcription with Live Transcribe

Not necessarily to do with books, but two of PG’s offspring are hearing-impaired, so he follows topics like this. He’s also interested in developments in artificial intelligence, so it’s a double win for him.

From The Google AI Blog:

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are 466 million people globally that are deaf and hard of hearing. A crucial technology in empowering communication and inclusive access to the world’s information to this population is automatic speech recognition (ASR), which enables computers to detect audible languages and transcribe them into text for reading. Google’s ASR is behind automated captions in Youtube, presentations in Slides and also phone calls. However, while ASR has seen multiple improvements in the past couple of years, the deaf and hard of hearing still mainly rely on manual-transcription services like CART in the US, Palantypist in the UK, or STTRin other countries. These services can be prohibitively expensive and often require to be scheduled far in advance, diminishing the opportunities for the deaf and hard of hearing to participate in impromptu conversations as well as social occasions. We believe that technology can bridge this gap and empower this community.

Today, we’re announcing Live Transcribe, a free Android service that makes real-world conversations more accessible by bringing the power of automatic captioning into everyday, conversational use. Powered by Google Cloud, Live Transcribe captions conversations in real-time, supporting over 70 languages and more than 80% of the world’s population. You can launch it with a single tap from within any app, directly from the accessibility icon on the system tray.

Link to the rest at The Google AI Blog


7 thoughts on “Real-Time Continuous Transcription with Live Transcribe”

  1. Could the program then produce a robot voice that would feed into an earphone? The voice could be calibrated to parameters of tone, volume, cadence and frequency that are easiest for hearing impaired.

  2. This sounds really interesting and I will have to check it out. I am severely hard of hearing in the speech frequencies and rely on captioning, but I have not been impressed by automatic captioning so far.

    If it has improved enough to be useful, that would be great.

  3. OMG! OMG! I can hardly believe it!!!! Lost my hearing when I was 4 (measles vaccine wasn’t quite available everywhere yet), and lost more and more over time until now, sixty years later, I’m about to get what is probably my last pair of hearing aids. They won’t help me for any kind of sound in a few years. Used to be a crack lipreader, but age is taking its toll on my energy level for it, not to mention my accuracy. Hubbins and I have begun using sign language in the past year, and my granddaughter likes to join in.

    Live Transcribe sounds like the kind of device I used to fantasize about back in college, when I became profoundly deaf and really had to scramble for notetaking and participating in seminars. Must check it out and give it a go, but like Cekine I have not been impressed with the automatic captioning on Youtube.

    Thanks, PG, for sharing this. The hell it doesn’t have anything to do with books–plenty of writers can’t hear too well to one extent or another!

  4. I’ve been completely deaf in one ear since I was fourteen from a bad case of mumps. The hearing in my good ear was damaged during a stint in the construction industry. I’ve worn hearing aids since I was 40. Last year was a big change: I bought a pair of Bose Hearphones. I haven’t worn my hearing aids since. Hearphones are not marketed as hearing aids, they are not medical devices, but for the first time since junior high school, I can comfortably carry on a conversation in a noisy crowded room. They use noise cancelling technology to limit background interference.

    As a bonus, they were a quarter of the price of my last pair of hearing aids. They are not perfect, but they are better than anything I have had before. They are obvious and people sometimes think you are listening to music or podcasts instead of them, but I can hear so much better, I don’t care. And when someone gets tedious, I can always switch on a podcast.

    I believe there are similar competing products that may be cheaper/better, but I am ecstatic with what I have. I urge anyone who has trouble hearing with background noise to try them.

    • A lower-cost alternative is certainly worthwhile, considering how much hearing aids cost…

      And audiologist tried to get me to buy some back in the 1980s, but back then, they simply made everything louder. Since what hearing I do have is sensitive, they weren’t a useful thing.

      Modern hearing aids are programmable like a stereo graphic equalizer, and the better ones have different background noise filters that can be switched in or out, albeit only by an office visit. And despite what the sonogram says, sometimes you need a boost in a particular frequency to make sounds clear. And best of all, the audiologist was able to program a sharp cutoff, dropping anything over a certain loudness, which helped me a lot.

      Talking with other people using hearing aids, it seems that most of them are simply given a sonogram, handed the programmed devices, and shown the door. They never knew they could be tweaked to work better, and many had quit bothering to wear them since they didn’t work very well.

      I haven’t used mine in a couple of years despite getting them carefully tuned. People who speak clearly, I can still make out what they’re saying. Unfortunately, the people who seemed to be saying “mubba hoobum wobba” were actually saying “MUBBA HOOBUM WABBA”, and hearing aids are no help for people who just modulate a whine or mumble random syllables.

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