Google adds automatic captions to YouTube

Google, in a significant development for deaf internet users, said it is adding automatic caption capability to videos on YouTube, reports the Associated Press. Google said machine-generated captions initially would be available only in English and on videos from 13 YouTube "partner channels," but it hopes to extend the feature eventually to all videos uploaded to the site. "Google believes that the world’s information should be accessible to everyone," said Vint Cerf, a Google vice president who has been described as the "Father of the Internet." Since last year, YouTube users have been able to add captions to videos manually, but the feature is not widely used and most content on the site does not have captions. Google uses Automatic Speech Recognition technology to generate the captions. Ken Harrenstien, a deaf Google software engineer who led the caption project, noted that the technology is not perfect–the word "sim card," for example, came out as "salmon" during one demonstration. Google audio engineers said background noise and strong accents pose a challenge to creating precise captions from the spoken word, but Harrenstien said the technology "will continue to improve with time."

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