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Communications of the ACM

ACM TechNews

Why Captions Are Suddenly Everywhere and How They Got There

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Pat Olken viewing her iPhone

Pat Olken uses the Otter app, created to transcribe business meetings, on her iPhone.

Credit: Steven Senne / AP Photo

Captions are becoming more widely available to people with hearing loss using videoconferencing platforms, streaming services, social media video, and smartphone apps. Apps like Google's Live Transcribe and Otto can be used to transcribe business meetings, while InnoCaption is used for transcribing phone calls and GalaPro for captioning live theater performances.

Captions are considered more accessible and less expensive than hearing aids and cochlear implants, which require the brain to interpret sound in a new way.

Apps like Otter and Live Transcribe use automatic speech recognition, which is based on artificial intelligence, for transcription.

Despite improvements in the technology, there can be lags in transcription, issues related to weak Wi-Fi signals, and challenges posed by jargon and slang. There also are concerns that transcriptions could be less accurate for the voices of women, people of color, and deaf people due to biases built into the technology.

From Associated Press
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