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Live transcription integration for your Hangouts
This is +Naomi Black from the Google Accessibility team. I've been working with ace Hangout developers +Robert Pitt, +Mohammad Eshbeata, and +Brian Aldridge on a new app to make communication between deaf and hearing participants easier in your Google+ Hangouts. 

By adding the +Hangout Captions app, you can either connect live text from a professional transcriptionist to your Hangout, or type right into a text box yourself to transcribe a Hangout for your friends. Right now, we only support professional transcription through StreamText and our "do it yourself" Basic Transcription. This is an early look at the app so you can tell us what you think.

To find out more about the new +Hangout Captions app (and more importantly, try it out) check out the website: https://hangout-captions.appspot.com/

Or, try it right away by starting a Hangout with the app running by clicking this link: https://plus.google.com/hangouts/_/?gid=8064685913

#googleplusupdate
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Booger Bender's profile photoClaude Almansi's profile photoMark Liederba's profile photoAnson Goldade's profile photo
33 comments
 
+Naomi Black Right now you mention that it support professional transcription via StreamText which is a USA only service. I am wondering if this will lead toward an API so that other services can make use of the Live Captions to provide a professional service outside of USA such as in Europe (ie UK)?

Right now, it's a great move by Google to do this and I look forward to future improvements.
 
Yes, we'd very much like to make it easy to add other services beyond the two we have today. That said, I'm not sure StreamText is USA-only, although the company is US-based. I know they've streamed text for events in other countries, for example. +Anson Goldade might be able to say more...
 
StreamText is used in many countries other than the United States and in languages other than English. If you are looking for someone to provide service in the UK, we'd be happy to let you know which professional writing companies and independents based in the UK are using StreamText. You can follow-up here or send an email to info@streamtext.net. 

We're obviously very excited to work with Google and +Naomi Black's team on this integration and we're looking forward to feedback like this from the community to make it better and more valuable to Google+ users. 
 
+Anson Goldade Thanks for that - I stand corrected! A look at your site gave the impression it was a USA service. I will email for further information and thank you for your input.

I was asked to help a deaf charity stream their conference in Cardiff so this might be one possibility for them to look into.
 
+Joseph Gwynne-Jones I'm in the UK and I'm sure that as long as the used langauge is English you can use this anywhere in the world.
I've been using Bee Communications, they offer a web based service of STTR - Speech To Text Relay - the way it works I connect on Skype and the opertaor can listen to what is being said in a meeting and I follow the text on a web browser.
I had already operators from USA/Canada and UK ... so ... It can be from anywhere to everywhere, the only thing you need is a common language.

+Sarah Perez surely it's not free as you're using a live service provided by someone. Even so, for those here in the UK you do have a governamental grant to support disable people in the workplace. The name of this grant is Access to Work. 
Since I've lost all my hearing due to bilateral Meniere Dicease, this type of support is essential to keep up with management meetings.

+Naomi Black this is truly awesome! Tow weeks ago I've tried to use the STTR support for a hangout and the operator had an extremely difficulty to keep up with what was being said. As most people didn't use micros or had the sound so high that indeed was causing feedback.

I cannot stress enough how much this means to deaf and hard hearing people, it includes us in a tool that is very useful and efficient not only for work but also for pleasure. 

So thumbs up Gogole+ and the all team!! 

I've just tried to use ... but maybe it's not roll out in the UK yet!!
 
+Helena Martins Bee Communications is one of the writing companies in the UK that use StreamText, so you should be ready to go when that feature is enabled in your Google+ hangouts. Would love to hear your feedback once you've used it.
 
+Helena Martins great description. I've only vaguely heard of Bee Communication but what you've described is what I want for work etc! I'll be sure to check them out for my job.
 
+Naomi Black This is stunning: thanks so much to all Google developers involved.  But there is one thing I didn't understand: in case of amateur volunteer transcribers, can more than one take turns in transcribing a given Hangout? Or does the transcribing app get assigned to a single person for the whole Hangout?
 
+Luciano Santa Brígida I'm embarrassed to say that we forgot about a download feature! If you're using a CART provider over StreamText, you can ask them to email you the transcript after the Hangout ends, but we don't have a feature yet for downloading in Basic mode. I'm looking into it. Thanks for the feedback!
 
+Claude Almansi The current transcriber has to stop transcribing and then anyone else in the Hangout can take over. Right now there's a bug so that if you leave the Hangout without ending the transcription, no one else can take it over when you leave.
The workaround is to have everyone exit and start a new Hangout, if this happens. We'll be fixing that.
 
+Helena Martins to install the app, you need to start Hangout Captions with a special link the first time. Click the big red button in the top right of this page to start a Hangout with the app installed: https://hangout-captions.appspot.com/
If you join a Hangout where others are already using it, you'll find it along the bottom row of the Hangout (where the small video images are), under "Apps". Let me know if this doesn't work for you.
 
I wanted to point out in the hangouts where the chat window is right next to the little smily icon where people type in for chatting. A microphone icon which would allow speech to text for those who are dyslexic to join the conversation with deaf people. This is a huge plus if you integrate this.
 
This is just so awesome. The Hangout product continues to be the most advanced and successful product of the Google+ family... Always improving... (Now I am waiting for Google Translate to be integrated in chat)
 
+Richard Hoefer that would indeed complete the revert of an unfortunate design glitch Someone created in a fit of bad temper a looong time ago.
 
I can't get the app to load.  Keep getting error message of "There was an error loading your app! That's all we know" when I click on it during a hangout.  Any ideas?
 
Google seemed to be changing a lot of things in the last month or so. I'm not surprised that a lot of things broke during changes. I'm pretty sure google is fixing it. you can always ask +chee chew or someone from +Google about those issues.
 
if you have adblock plus set it to disable on google +
 
Actually, it looks like this is a known issue affecting some users -- we're investigating. Stay tuned. 
 
This is an exciting development.  At A Word Away, Inc., we've been providing the highest quality live streaming text (and perfect, fully-edited transcription) throughout the planet with only the world's most accredited, seasoned captioners and transcribers.

We spent literally years cobbling remarkable things together to deliver the text from the very earliest days.  We were one of the first in the industry to ever deliver live text to the Web.  But all those years were spent struggling with the delivery model, when our expert focus should be the production of the text itself and the related tasks.

Streamtext and Anson Goldade literally facilitated the movement of this text from the stenographer's machine to not only the Web but to a variety of custom deployments in first of a kind engagements with my firm.

The world needs to understand that there is a very dedicated and accomplished transcription and captioning workforce out here who have been struggling mightily for 20 years simply for the tools to arrive.  Meanwhile, this important constituency remains underserved. 
Text should be as easy as dialtone, and there's no reason for it not to be.

Even today -- some 20 years later -- I am spending hours on the phone serving a client who cannot figure out how to broadcast his video live on the Web with captioning.  Thank you so very much for this amazing effort and feel free to call on us for any pilots or experimentation or further innovation, which we'd be happy to contribute to.  e-mail teresa@awordaway.com or info@textstreaming.com.
 
Thanks for sharing +Naomi Black . I will be keeping an eye on this technology. thanks to  +Robert Pitt and the other developers working hard on this project. Can the transcription be exported to "srt" subtitle format? this would be really great and easy way to import to Amara and to YouTube. It would seamlessly be easy to add and support.
 
+Booger Bender : when +Amara (Universal Subtitles)  did its captioned Town Hall Hangout last October, Jason Bradley who did the  real time captioning kindly gave the resulting transcript too. But as real time captioning is streamed without subtitle breaks, he gave it as a plain text in a .rtf  file: see the attachment to +Juliana Rincon 's http://support.universalsubtitles.org/categories/6573/forums/74605/topics/8407 post about turning it into subs on the Amara help forum.

That's OK too: you can upload a plain text transcript to both YouTube and Amara. In YT, it will be synced into subtitles by the software - in Amara, by volunteers :D . Just remember, if the transcript comes in a .rtf file, to first convert it to UTF-8 encoded .txt and separate potential subs with empty lines. Amara simply rejects .rtf files - the YT software accepts them, but the .rtf format produces heaps of rubbish code in the subs.
 
Claude,
Thank you for explaining that to me. I was always weary about text files however, seems to me that it works fine. I have always been in favor for SRT format but, this would do just fine. :)
 
Dylan
.srt makes heaps of sense indeed if the transcript has already been synced into discrete, timed subtitles. But before this syncing, it just adds useless codes to the transcript.

The tricky thing with .txt is the UTF-8 encoding. When Amara was Universal Subtitles, we were able copy-paste the transcript, with empty lines separations, and the software did the proper encoding. Then this possibility regrettably was removed by Amara at the end of last June, and people using accented languages started having problems when they didn't know how to set the encoding - see http://support.universalsubtitles.org/categories/6573/forums/27539/topics/4964 - perhaps you're referring to that when you say you were wary about text files?

Then I vigorously agree: this is indeed a problem - I just saw a set of Russian subs reduced to ?????? by the upload of a wrongly encoded .txt file: http://www.amara.org/en/videos/WXyEKLTdNw6k/ru/492167/ . Maybe you could convince Amara developers to give us back the copy-paste possibility? After all, in that http://support.universalsubtitles.org/categories/6573/forums/27539/topics/4964 thread, +Juliana Rincon wrote on Aug. 27: "hopefully it will be back soon".
 
Hi +Claude Almansi . Perhaps you could create a separate post for discussing your concerns about Amara? This is getting a bit off-topic...
 
+Booger Bender there's no way (currently) to export the transcript from Hangout Captions -- it's on our to-do list. But we would be exporting as txt, not srt, since srt requires timecodes. What we do generally is request a copy of the transcript from the StreamText captioner, since they do have the ability to save. We then upload the transcript to YouTube to use auto-timing to get an srt download.
 
that would be fine. I just preferred working with srt format. it should be ok with both. Thanks for letting me know +Naomi Black 
 
It would be nice to see this working on live hangouts as closed caption in the YouTube site
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