Speech Technology for Productivity
The accuracy of speech recognition has drastically improved over the last few years, making way for efficiencies we couldn’t have imagined just a decade ago. Voice-activated digital assistants and an array of applications on our phones, computers, in our cars, and homes have started to infiltrate everyday life. But just how much easier can speech technology make our lives?
To start, speech dictation has been found to be three times faster than touch screen typing on mobile devices and two to three times faster than typing on a full keyboard. And the cost of obtaining an automated transcript is usually quite low. Not to mention the quick turnaround time. Some, for example, only costs $0.10 a minute and turns around 30-minute files within five minutes.
There are a number of ways speech technology can make processes in our daily lives and work environments more efficient.
Most smartphones have dictation capabilities that allow you to speak into the mic and record your words. With this, to-do lists, reminders, text messages, emails, tweets, and so much more, can be drafted in a fraction of the time. Speech technology enables people to combine verbal tasks like dictation with physical tasks, like cooking or driving. In 2016, the average American spent more than 290 hours driving. That’s an enormous amount of time that can be used more productively. While it’s illegal in many places and very unsafe to type while driving, talking is a safe and quick way to make note of ideas, to-do and shopping lists, first drafts and outlines, and so much more.
For Working Professionals
In any industry, transcribing meetings, training sessions, interviews, and presentations gives employees physical and searchable records. These can be shared with leadership or team members who weren’t able to attend and alleviate attendees of taking notes. Employees can focus on the topics being discussed and engage in conversation with fellow employees, interview candidates, or clients rather than scrambling to get every word down. Knowing there will be an exact record of what was said facilitates deeper listening and active participation.
Research has proven that visual memory is vastly stronger than auditory memory. If employees are given a transcript of all auditory content, they can retain that information much better. Having a transcript also ensures there are no misunderstandings around action items or deadlines. Next steps are clear and can be easily referenced as needed.
For those looking to further their education, online or in-person lectures are the most common mediums. There’s often a large amount of material covered in a short period of time, making it difficult to write or even type all of the important pieces of information. Studies have shown that within 24 hours, learners forget an average of 70% of new information. Submitting a recording of a lecture and getting an automatic transcript of it can help ensure students don’t miss a beat. They’re also helpful for searching for key terms in preparation for an exam or organizing notes by topic. And while it’s been found that students who take notes by hand perform better than those who use a keyboard, it’s challenging to catch everything in writing. Knowing you’ll have a transcript later ensures students can take notes of what they can, while still engaging and participating, without the stress of inadvertently missing out on important information. Playing back audio during exam prep reinforces concepts and allows learners to double check that nothing is missing.
For Content Creators
Bloggers, authors, reporters, and any form of content creators benefit greatly from speech technology. Dictating the first draft of a piece of content and having a transcript of it a short time later saves hours of time that would otherwise be spent at a keyboard. Words often come at inconvenient times, but being able to capture thoughts at the moment they come can greatly increase productivity. Given that the average person speaks somewhere between 125-150 words per minute, but only types an average of 38-40 words per minute, that’s a huge time-saver. There are a number of free voice recorder apps out there, that allow users to dictate thoughts and save the recording for later or submit it for a transcript right away.
Journalists, in particular, spend, on average, 6 hours a week transcribing audio. Over the course of a year, that adds up to 2 lost business months. And they are often on tight deadlines to file a story. AI-generated transcripts give the power of time back to journalists, allowing them to focus on what they love most about their jobs — writing. By eliminating the mundane task of playing and pausing audio and video files for hours, speech-to-text services free up time that can be spent in more creative and strategic ways.
For digital content creators, having a searchable transcript of all of the content you’ve created can help stay organized and find particular files or snippets of information. Social media managers can also benefit from speech technology. Recordings of company updates, speaker events, customer testimonials, etc. can be quickly turned into transcripts and users can pull the highlights into social media updates.
Law enforcement is a field notoriously burdened by paperwork. A study found 39% of law enforcement professionals admit to spending 3-4 hours each day on incident reporting and other documentation tasks. That is valuable time that can be spent in the field protecting communities. Instead of spending hours typing up incident reports by hand, officers can dictate reports in a fraction of the time. It’s also much easier to dictate a report in the moment when details around an incident are fresh in mind than a few hours later at a keyboard. Many speech recognition platforms that exist today allow users to enter specific commonly used terms or phrases. This is especially valuable for terminology that can be complex or difficult for an automated system to recognize on its own. But with a custom vocabulary bank, the system can pick up on those words and phrases and accurately transcribe them.
Speech technology can also drive efficiencies in the healthcare space. If nurses record appointment notes, they can spend less time writing charts for patients. With that time savings, they can see more patients and optimize operations. It also ensures a higher level of accuracy in reporting exchanges between a medical professional and patient, with details being top of mind. It’s important to note that a highly secure speech-to-text service ought to be used in order to be compliant with HIPAA.
For People with Disabilities
Finally, speech technology can greatly benefit individuals with disabilities. Video captions are essential for those who are hard of hearing, helping them digest content available to the rest of the world, from YouTube videos, to online courses, to movies and TV shows, and so much more. Improving accessibility is an important mission everyone should be working towards. Speech technology can help speed up the process for obtaining closed captions, opening up a world of opportunity for the hard of hearing.
It is also helpful for those with learning disabilities like Dyslexia. Language often flows easier than the written word, and dictating thoughts through a speech recognition software can help them output more in less time. Smart speakers are also immensely helpful to seniors with dementia. They can easily ask questions when they forget things, like “What day is it?”. Speech recognition via smart devices like Amazon’s Echo and the Google Home give seniors access to the web when they may not know how to access the internet via computers and mobile devices.
Speech technology has the potential to drive efficiencies in a number of industries even beyond those listed here, including market research, field workers, social work, insurance adjusters, customer service, and so much more. The automatic speech recognition engines that transcribe speech to text will only continue to get more accurate and fast at spitting out transcripts. If you’re not taking advantage of the time savings speech technology can offer, now is the time to start.
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