Transcription Services/Note Taking

How Speech to Text will Change the Future of Transcription Services

By Thomas Carter on August, 20 2019
Thomas Carter

Everyone seems to have a piece of technology or software that makes their life ten times more efficient. Speech to text software is an incredibly accessible tech that can make typing quicker and easier.

Speech to text software — or automated speech recognition (ASR) software — uses speech recognition technology to turn audio into written words. 

This is useful if you need to see an audio recording down on paper, or want to dictate your ideas without typing — hands-free typing using your mobile is already quite popular. You can get more detailed ideas down quickly, without worrying about forgetting anything. 

Technology is disrupting every industry — where will advanced speech to text software take transcription services? 

 

Speech to text software isn’t new, but it is finally starting to deliver!

ASR has been around for a while, with one of the first implementations of speech to text created at Bell Laboratories in 1952. It was a “digit recogniser” called Audrey and it could recognise spoken numerical digits. 

Researchers worked on making progress with the technology, with companies such as IBM developing Shoebox, a system that not only recognised digits but also understood some arithmetic commands like “plus” and “total”.  The first commercial systems came onto the market in the 1990s, and in the past 30 years, it has become more advanced, more accessible and much cheaper as the tech has developed. 

 


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Now in our modern digital age, ASR technology follows us around in our pockets. It’s been installed in our phones as virtual assistants, such as Siri. Many people also now have household virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. Many people are becoming accustomed to this hands-free experience of controlling technology. 

Whilst the technology is still improving, it is not yet 100% accurate. There is still more to be done. 

 

Automation reduces costs and increases speed

ASR is extremely popular with transcription services. As speech to text software has grown more sophisticated, it has made transcription more accessible. One of the primary benefits of ASR is its speed. While your mileage will vary depending on your chosen software solution, most ASR software can transcribe even lengthy speeches in seconds. With prices starting at around 7-10 pence per minute of audio, it’s a very budget friendly solution, too.

Yet that speed and affordability comes at the cost of accuracy. While ASR has grown more sophisticated, its accuracy levels still top out at around 80% and that’s even under ideal conditions (reduced background noise, clear speech etc.). ASR allows for immediate turnarounds, but it may not be the perfect solution for those who prioritise accuracy. 

After all, what’s the point in saving time if you still need to dedicate time to correcting errors made by the transcription software?

Human transcription services, on the other hand, will have more expensive price points, but there’s still room for manoeuvre to suit most budgets. A human-based transcription will usually cost you between 50 pence and £2 per spoken minute, depending on your desired turnaround time and type of subscription service.

Not only do human transcription services offer 99+% accuracy, they can also identify vocal tics like “ums”, “ahs”, false starts and laughter which ASR solutions will often miss. What’s more, there’s far more scope to human-based transcription services, allowing you to get the information that matters the most to you. These include:

    • Full Verbatim — Transcription in its rawest form, including filler words and vocal tics. You can even request notes on these for a small additional cost.
    • Verbatim — Also known as “intelligent verbatim”, this offers a more concise transcription. It provides a more polished version of the speech while still ensuring 100% accuracy.  
  • Detailed Notes — Detailed notes get straight to the point and deliver the main talking points with all the fluff removed. All off-topic chat is removed for a more concise overview of the speech that retains all the important details.

The real transformation will be the delivery of these quality points using ASR technology. That will allow for the cheap and seamless delivery of transcripts that professionals can count on. For now, human transcription services have a place. In the future, human-quality outcomes will be accessible on your phone. 

 

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ASR is making processes more efficient

ASR isn’t perfect. Nonetheless, despite issues, ASR is making processes faster and more efficient in many areas.

ASR brings easy and affordable access to transcription services to people in many different circles of business and academia. In the digital age, many are more likely to search for a solution on their native app store than searching for a business to facilitate their transcription needs. This has enabled users to bring the efficiency of transcription services to a wide number of activities. 

The increasing ubiquity of speech to text software is making it quicker and easier for people in all kinds of fields to get the job done. The speed and low cost mean that you can get easy access to transcriptions for anything, from meetings to customer service calls or even notes, thoughts and ideas. Even the fastest typist’s fingers move slower than their thoughts and ASR solutions can assure that nothing gets lost or missed.

There are many different industries that benefit from the widespread use of ASR. Legal and medical professionals can use them for making case notes. They can be used to make transcripts for legal hearings. They can be used to create closed captions for video marketing materials. Market researchers can use them to transcribe the insights from focus group panels. The possibilities are practically endless.

However, it’s worth remembering that while the technology behind ASR is always improving, the quality of the recording is always a factor in transcription accuracy. This is why many still opt for the reliable accuracy of human transcriptionists. 

 

Improving accessibility to those who need it

Technology has long assisted those with accessibility needs. As it grows more capable and autonomous, it can improve accessibility for those who need it most. Transcription services and ASR are no exception.

There are some, like the hearing impaired, for whom information can be hard to absorb in audio form. ASR can allow this information to be rendered in a format that is readily accessible and digestible for them. 

ASR can also help businesses to make themselves more available to customers and employees with accessibility needs. When they are able to make everything from promotional materials to training videos available in text format, they not only demonstrate their consideration of customers with accessibility needs, they also avoid violation of workplace discrimination standards.

 

The future of transcription services

It’s safe to say that ASR is here to stay, but what does the future hold for this increasingly sophisticated software? As more and more tech companies realise the widespread potential applications for ASR, it will only grow more sophisticated and integral to everyday life, business and academia. 

As ASR improves, offering businesses and industries of all kinds a better quality of transcriptions, we can expect it to become even more accessible and readily available. Already, smartphone users can easily get free, good quality and instant transcriptions straight to their devices. 

Yet, while the future is bright for ASR, the question remains of whether it will ever be able to overcome the inherent limitations of the tech in terms of accuracy. It’s safe to say that...

 

There’s room for improvement

At the moment, no ASR solution can offer you a choice between verbatim, full-verbatim or detailed notes transcripts, and they can’t guarantee accuracy. But the technology is only improving. 

Right now, tech giants like Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft are competing to develop personal assistants driven by ASR technology. In the long-run, this will be the investment force that transforms transcription services. It is only a matter of time before we have access to truly accurate and flexible speech-to-text software solutions. 

For now, human transcription services are critical for the delivery of professional transcription services. It is hard to tell how long that will remain the case. However, what is for certain is that as ASR improves, transcription services will become more accessible, faster and more widely used. 

We currently sit in a transition period for the use of voice recognition software. It is exciting to see where developments will take the industry. 


You’ve been reading about the future of speech to text software and transcription. If you want to find out more about transcription, ASR or using a transcription service, our Ultimate Guide to Transcription Services can help. 

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