Google Meet Adds Real-Time Transcription From Voice Tech Startup Otter.ai
Google Meet conferences can now add real-time transcriptions and captions using Otter.ai’s new Live Notes and Video Captions Google Chrome extensions, respectively. The free Otter’s speech-to-text technology is part of Google’s efforts to capture a bigger segment of the enterprise videoconferencing market as it explodes in the wake of the global pandemic, including the approximately 100 million daily users of Google Meet.
Once Otter’s Google Chrome Extension is downloaded and installed, it just has to be connected to Google Meet before the next video conference. During the conference, Live Notes will appear as a panel on the side of the video window. Once you can hit the record button and see the Live Notes transcript, write itself on the side, as shown in the video above. Tapping the CC button turns on the Video Captions feature, applying the same technology to closed captions, but it’s essentially the same thing. Google Meet has a closed caption feature built-in, so there’s not much of an incentive to choose one over the other in that regard.
After the meeting is over, the transcript is saved to the user’s Otter account and can be shared around to whoever needs to see it. The transcript is also interactive, with the option to highlight passages, insert images, and correct any errors made by the AI that are spotted after the meeting. Otter pitches the transcript and platform as useful not just for those who might miss the meeting, but as a way to share precise and accurate information about what happened during the meeting with those who are hearing impaired or may note native speakers of the language and would like to be able to read it out.
“Google Meet is a highly effective video conferencing tool and is used by over a hundred million people every day for business collaboration,” Otter CEO Sam Liang said in a statement. “We have seen with our first integration into Zoom that making it more seamless to use Otter increases note-taking and productivity for users, we are excited to offer this same type of seamless integration for Google Meet users. Our AI technology is able to accurately understand a wide variety of accents in English and intelligently turns real-time conversations into live transcripts, as well as live video captions. By offering these features in an integrated experience on Google Meet, Otter.ai is helping to foster a more cohesive and collaborative workplace, as well as boosting inclusivity.”
Otter was founded five years ago as AISense, and launched the Otter platform in 2018, renaming itself for its product. The AI’s ability to discern both who is speaking and what they are saying drew interest from clients and investors. The startup has raised $23 million, most recently a $10 million round last year led by Japanese mobile operator NTT DOCOMO. That funding was linked to a pilot program teaching online English classes in Japan, using the transcription as a study guide for students instead of going through audio recordings only. The company serves both enterprise and consumer customers now, with Zoom and Dropbox on its client list. The biggest difference between what Otter does for Zoom and what it does for Google Meet is that the Google Meet service is free to users while you have to pay to sign up to use Otter with Zoom.
Demand for more and better tech around video meetings was on the rise before COVID-19, but there’s no denying the still rising surge in the market since the pandemic began. Zoom. Other transcription tech startups have been showered with cash or snapped up in acquisitions, like when customer feedback analysis platform Medallia bought voice transcription startup Voci Technologies for $59 million in June. It likely spurred new Google Meet features like voice commands through Google Assistant, automatic framing on the Google Nest Hub Max camera, and the option to have 100 people on one video call. Zoom probably isn’t getting voice control soon. Combine that lack with a free version of Otter, and Google may be able to peel off some of the market segment that Zoom so efficiently vacuumed up in 2020.