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July 26 2012

13:43

Interview: the team behind the Translate audio transcription app

After test-driving the audio transcription app Translate, Antoinette Siu interviewed Jason and Kishore of Wreally Studios, the team behind Transcribe.

What do you hope to do with this project?

We want to make journalists’ lives easier through software. From what we’ve heard, transcription is one of their pain points and while Transcribe can’t do the transcription automatically for them (at least, not yet) we could make the transcription process a little easier for them through our tool.

To that end we’ve been talking to several users and getting their feedback to improve the product. Our goal is to build a great product that genuinely addresses the transcription needs of our users.

How is the tool being received?

Transcribe is actually spreading pretty virally at the moment, purely through word-of-mouth advertising. We think it’s a testament to the simplicity and effectiveness of the app.

The very first version we put out was pretty rough and it was dormant for a few months. However, we should thank our early users for giving us lots of valuable feedback that has helped make Transcribe where it is today. We get lots of fan emails every week, which is always heartening.

Is there a team developing this tool or is this something you are doing full-time?

We are both software engineers by profession and entrepreneurs at heart. We have been working on Transcribe part-time over the past year.

Why a journalism tool?

We have always believed that one can’t build great software without putting oneself in the shoes of the end users. As such, this tool was actually born out of a personal frustration. We built a tool which helped us do transcriptions faster, and we wanted to put it out in the wild for others to use it and also give us feedback on how to make it better.

In the past, we have worked on other highly focused tools, with one of them (Scribble), having more than 35,000 users in the Chrome Web Store.

Currently, we are focusing on Transcribe, and recently launched a “Pro” version which builds upon the free version. We have a bunch of really exciting features lined up for Transcribe Pro!

What was your favourite part about creating this tool?

Definitely the part about letting the users drive the development of features that’s important to them. We have been able to quickly iterate on the product by responding to user suggestions and that has made the application better for everyone.

How do you see users using it?

While interacting with the users of Transcribe, we found out that a lot of people performed transcription using just a audio player and a text editor! This process is painful for a number of reasons.

Firstly, you cannot easily pause, rewind or slow-down the audio without constantly switching between the editor and the audio player.

In addition, your fingers have to toggle between the keyboard and the mouse in order to perform various actions.

In contrast—Transcribe puts both the audio player and the text editor on the same screen, and provides you with powerful shortcuts for controlling both the audio playback and the editor.

With Transcribe Pro, you can manage multiple transcriptions at the same time and it will even remember where you stopped the audio so that you can resume from the same place next time. It also supports various audio formats directly.

Are you marketing the tool to any news outlets?

As you have correctly pointed out, Transcription is a huge time sink for journalists. So far, we have relied primarily on word-of-mouth advertising and that by itself has proved very effective—our users love the product and recommend it to their colleagues. So we haven’t yet had the need to market the tool ourselves, which is great.

But we would love to discuss Transcribe with news outlets to get more feedback and explore opportunities to integrate Transcribe into their workflows.

With the launch of Transcribe Pro last month, we are currently working on some exciting features that would make Transcription even less painful. Anyone interested in talking to us, can email contact@wreally.com.

07:38

Review: Translate app

Antoinette Siu takes a look at a new free app which promises to make transcribing audio easier.

Transcribing audio is one of the most time-consuming tasks in a journalist’s job. Switching between the audio player and the text editor, rewinding every 20 seconds in, typing frantically to catch every syllable—repeating these steps back and forth, and back and forth… in an age of so much automation, something isn’t quite right.

A new Chrome app tool called Transcribe lets you do all that in one screen. With keyboard shortcuts and an audio file uploader, you can easily go back and forth between your sound and text.

The basic version is (and likely always will be) free; the pro version goes for $19/month on the Solo plan or $29/month on the Premium plan. With both, a 30-day free trial is included with no credit card necessary.

Just from testing the basic app, there seems to be a huge potential in a free reporting tool like this. Another upside is, even when you lack internet access the app will continue to work.

With the upgrade to pro, the developers offer options to save your transcripts, export the documents, and other sweet features like the full screen mode—so you can really focus on getting that transcription done free from distractions.

Overall, the app is not only intuitively simple to use, but audio uploads are fast, the design is simple and without clutter, and, most of all, free from advertising at this point.

The tool is definitely off to a promising start, considering it’s still a work in progress.

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feedback2020-admin
04:05
07:38

Review: Translate app

Antoinette Siu takes a look at a new free app which promises to make transcribing audio easier.

Transcribing audio is one of the most time-consuming tasks in a journalist’s job. Switching between the audio player and the text editor, rewinding every 20 seconds in, typing frantically to catch every syllable—repeating these steps back and forth, and back and forth… in an age of so much automation, something isn’t quite right.

A new Chrome app tool called Transcribe lets you do all that in one screen. With keyboard shortcuts and an audio file uploader, you can easily go back and forth between your sound and text.

The basic version is (and likely always will be) free; the pro version goes for $19/month on the Solo plan or $29/month on the Premium plan. With both, a 30-day free trial is included with no credit card necessary.

Just from testing the basic app, there seems to be a huge potential in a free reporting tool like this. Another upside is, even when you lack internet access the app will continue to work.

With the upgrade to pro, the developers offer options to save your transcripts, export the documents, and other sweet features like the full screen mode—so you can really focus on getting that transcription done free from distractions.

Overall, the app is not only intuitively simple to use, but audio uploads are fast, the design is simple and without clutter, and, most of all, free from advertising at this point.

The tool is definitely off to a promising start, considering it’s still a work in progress.

January 31 2011

15:00

Audio/visual: Adding captions to NPR to reach a text-based audience

Things to take into consideration when trying to caption a radio newscast: how to convey sarcasm, irony, or seriousness; how to represent sound or ambient noise that’s important to a story; how to differentiate the voices of multiple hosts and guests.

Oh, and how to enable captioning on a medium that typically comes with no visuals.

All of these are things NPR Labs has been working on for several years as they try to bring captioned radio into mainstream use. This fall, they’ll begin a pilot program to test out captioned radio at stations around the country through display-capable digital radios and other devices like the Insignia Infocast. The hope is that, one day, captioned radio could also be viewed on mobile apps and tablets.

“We’re trying to build this to work for all public radio and create a large enough model that it can be emulated by others,” Mike Starling, executive director of NPR Labs, told me.

The idea of captioning is much more obvious for television, where the visual medium provides a ready display for text. (Closed captioning dates back to the early 1970s at Boston’s WGBH.) But radio is just as critical a source of news reports and emergency information, Starling said. NPR has come a long way in offering transcripts of their programs online, but they still come with a delay. NPR Labs, which works on software and transmission technology, has been experimenting with captioned radio as digital broadcasting has expanded and radio has burst out of its audio-only bounds. As more radio signals became digital, it allowed for transmission of something like a speech-to-text algorithm that creates a captioning feed. A description from NPR Labs:

Audio recorded in any of NPR’s studios is sent to Master Control, which then routes this audio to both PRSS and to a captioner. The captioner can be either a stenographer or a re-speaker, like the BBC uses. Re-speakers listen to audio and re-speak what they hear into a voice recognition program that has been trained to their voice. This increases the accuracy greatly over speech-to-text programs that are untrained, and removes any background sounds from field reports that might confuse the program.

From there, captions would be sent to stations over the Internet or by satellite and available to read on display-enabled radios, on the web, or on Internet-enabled devices.

Starling said a big reason captioned radio is advancing now is because technology is making it easier to put screens in front of the estimated 25-30 million Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing. That may be part of the reason NPR was looking to make friends with Apple and Android developers at the most recent Consumer Electronics Show. Tablets like the iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab are the right size for viewing live text, Starling said. But the price of those gadgets means they’re not widely available, which is why Starling considers something like the Infocast or Sony Dash good options that run less than $200. (NPR also developed a prototype car radio display with Delphi, that could act as a screen for turn-by-turn navigation or captions. See the video above for more.)

“It’s perfect timing for us to do the initial work on how to do captioning cost effectively,” he said.

More important than the technology is translating newscasts and other programs in a way that is faithful to content but also understandable for deaf audiences, Starling said. NPR worked with researchers at Gallaudet University to find the best ways to relay non-spoken information in stories, and what factors can interfere with reading captions. In one test, they found that people liked seeing avatars of NPR personalities like Robert Siegel or Michele Norris in captions, but that the extra visuals cut down on the retention of information from stories, Starling said.

“It’s like interpreting for a different language,” he said. “You have to figure out how to best translate this into something else so the full semantic impact is made in articulating a concept.”

The largest trial run of captioned radio was on election night in 2008 when 150 people at five member stations tested captions on a large display, an online stream, and a slide show. Starling said they now want to get a sense whether captioned radio can fit into everyday life and what problems may arise for listeners or stations. Though they’re just scratching the surface of what could be done with captioned radio, Starling said he can see a future where broadcasts could be visualized in different ways, possibly to incorporate images, graphic or video, made available anywhere on any device.

“We’ve got enough to bite off in doing faithful transcripts before we explore how this new artform could be more fully exploited for the intended audience,” he said.

December 15 2010

18:00

January 13 2010

17:35
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