Many people are unaware of a simple truth — digital technology has made transcription services a lot more accessible and affordable.
Transcripts deliver underappreciated benefits. They make record keeping, research, notetaking and organisation far simpler and detailed. Transcription services provide these benefits without the hassle of spending hours painstakingly transcribing long passages of audio or video yourself.
This article explains the benefits of speech-to-text software — the disruptive technology bringing transcription services into the palm of your hand. But first ...
What is speech to text software?
Speech to text software, also known as automated speech recognition (ASR) software, does exactly what the name suggests. It uses speech recognition technology to identify patterns in sound waves and matches them to the phonemes of speech to translate them into text.
This software has been around in some form or another since the early 1950s. It is an ever-evolving form of technology that has formed a commonplace part of our everyday lives, for example with assistive digital solutions like Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant.
As a result, ASR software is becoming ever more affordable, better and accessible. While many use it for automated dictation, it can also allow quick and easy control of digital and web applications.
Let’s take a look at 5 reasons you should consider using speech to text software...
1. Speech to text software is cheap
The prevalence of ASR software has meant that transcription services that use the technology have become much cheaper. No matter what your budget, you can find an appropriate tool or mobile app to fulfil your transcription needs. In fact, there are many that are free.
Microsoft Windows has built-in software (imaginatively named Windows Speech Recognition) which is built with dictation in mind for any browser or web application. Apple has its own equivalent software, Apple Dictation for Macs, and browser-based word processor Google Docs also has a voice typing option. All of these are free, as is the Chrome-based dictation and transcription software Speechnotes.
Those who need a mobile transcription app may be better served by applications like Trint (which has a 30 day free trial period after which transcription costs start at 17p per minute), or the slightly more basic Temi, which has an attractive price of just 10c US (8p) per minute. An alternative to using a digital dictation tool may be to record notes on your mobile phone and use one of these apps to convert the MP3 files to text.
With ASR, as in most things, you get what you pay for. More affordable solutions may not offer the level of accuracy you need. Even under ideal speaking conditions, ASR solutions struggle to average over 80% accuracy in their transcription.
When it comes to accuracy, ASR solutions compared to human transcription services still have a long way to go. The truth is that you will still have to put some time in cleaning up an ASR-based transcript, and they do not offer all of the editing options that come with human transcription services. But if you have time and are on a budget, they can get the job done cheap.
2. Speech to text software is fast
Those who need transcription with lightning-fast turnarounds are well served by the wealth of digital solutions and mobile apps that use speech to text software. Many ASR software solutions can transcribe even lengthy passages of text in minutes or even seconds.
However, it’s important to guard against a false economy. ASR solutions may lack accuracy, especially if audio quality is poor, there is a lot of background noise, if there are multiple speakers or if the speaker has an accent which affects their enunciation. You may find that you have to spend a lot of time correcting mistakes made by the software. In this instance, flexible human transcription services with fast turnarounds (as little as 12 hours) may be better suited to your needs.
However, if what you need are rough notes, speech to text software solutions get the job done at breakneck speeds.
3. Speech to text software is convenient
In an era where so many of us are reliant on our mobile devices for living and working, speech to text software offers us convenience when we need it most, especially when it’s via a mobile app.
Speech to text software is easy to find on desktop and mobile devices and even the most comprehensive ASR solutions are intuitive and user-friendly. Whether you’re using speech to text software for dictation, word processing or to navigate the internet, it can offer a convenient and user-friendly alternative to typing.
4. Speech to text software can boost productivity (and profitability)
Time is money, especially when you run your own business or work in the gig economy. Speech to text software can be invaluable in saving you time and effort that’s better spent elsewhere.
ASR transcription software can liberate you from your desk, and prevent you from having to type lengthy passages of text until you risk getting carpal tunnel syndrome. It can spare students from having to type out long and complex lecture notes so that they have more time available to study. For those in the legal profession, it can allow for far less time spent on tedious administration and more time for what matters the most… Billable hours!
It can facilitate effective multitasking, enabling your eyes and hands to do one thing while your voice does another. This is invaluable if you have multiple projects on at one time, or need to quickly jot down notes while working on something else — you might even be able to outline a new project while cooking dinner.
The great thing about ASR is that it’s quick and easy to implement. Simply opening up the keyboard on most Apple or Android phones will give the user instant access to a native speech to text dictation function.
Quite simply, speech to text software makes everything a little easier so that you can focus your time and attention on what matters the most to you!
5. Speech to text software is cutting edge
Let’s face it, everyone likes to be at the cutting edge. We all want to embrace the latest technologies. And for those who own their own business, there’s also a certain PR value in being seen to keep up with emerging technological trends.
As the market for speech to text software grows, tech giants continue to compete to bring more elegant and sophisticated solutions to consumers. Like all technologies, speech to text software is in a constant state of evolution and is well worth keeping an eye on whatever your dictation and transcription needs.
Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that even contemporary speech to text software is far from perfect. Unlike a human transcriber, ASR cannot determine which homophone to use dependent on context. It can struggle with accents, speech impediments and indistinct speech.
Furthermore, unlike human transcriptionists, ASR also cannot afford users a choice of transcription styles — offering full verbatim, intelligent verbatim or detailed notes which allow users to pick levels of detail that are best suited to their transcription needs. ASR services cannot offer notes on pauses, vocal tics or nuances of intonation and volume. These factors will continue to provide a bottleneck for accuracy and detail.
For these reasons, we expect that there will be a need for human transcription services for the foreseeable future. However, ASR is an industry to watch and is already delivering major benefits to users on a daily basis. The low costs make it easy to try out — get experimenting!
You have been reading about reasons to use speech to text software, and the productivity benefits it can bring to you today. If you have more questions about ASR, human transcription services, industry-specific needs (legal transcripts, medical transcripts and market research), we have written the Ultimate Guide to Transcription Services just for you!