YouTube Offers Auto-Captioning to All Users

Auto-captioning borrows text-to-speech algorithms from Google Voice Search. The results aren't perfect, but fairly accurate

YouTube is opening up its auto-caption feature to everybody, a move that benefits not only deaf users, but also people who watch videos in really noisy places, like airport terminals. And since the tool will be able to translate captions into your choice of 50 languages, it should be handy for viewing YouTube clips from around the world. For now, however, auto-captioning works only with videos in English.

Auto-captioning borrows some text-to-speech algorithms from Google Voice Search to automatically create captions upon viewer request. As you'd expect from machine-generated captioning, the results aren't perfect, but they're fairly accurate for formal presentations and keynote-type speeches with minimal background noise. In other words, auto-captioning gives you a pretty good idea of what's being said, although some of the finer points may be misleading or just plain wrong. On the plus side, a video owner can download the auto-captions, clean them up, and upload a corrected transcript.

The iPad Keynote Test

To test auto-captioning, I went to YouTube to watch Steve Jobs' iPad presentation from January 2010. The feature is a cinch to activate via the "up arrow" button on the bottom right of the video window.

Within seconds, YouTube begins generating captions, which it displays in real-time.

Auto-captioning was reasonably accurate, albeit with a few glitches:

· Steve: And you can change the background screen, the home screen, to personalize it any way you want.

· YouTube: and you cannot change the background screen the whole screen that personalize it anyway you want

· Steve: You can browse the Web with it

· YouTube: you can browse the went with it

· Steve: A keyboard pops up. It's almost life-size.

· YouTube: a keyboard pops up it's almost like flies

YouTube first released auto-captioning to a small group of beta testers in November. The wide availability of this tool will certainly benefit content owners, who can easily and quickly make their videos accessible to a worldwide audience.

Then again, a poorly translated video could lead to some troubling international incidents. What do you think?

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags captioningWeb Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)youtube

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeff Bertolucci

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?