The Future of Dictation

The digital age has moved dictation forward leaps and bounds.

Dictation and speech recognition started over 50 years ago by Alexander Graham Bell, whose wife was deaf and experimented with transmitting speech taking words and turn them into a picture that a deaf person could then understand. This is actually how he invented the telephone, not entirely solving the problem that he had set out to do, but an amazing accomplishment nonetheless.

Technology is moving fast and what is relevant today may not be fit for purpose tomorrow, this blog post will explore what the future of dictation tools may look like.

Current technology such as Apples Siri is stuff of 1970’s and 80’s sci-fi movies, who would of thought that we would be talking to our phones and tablets and actually getting an answer back!

We have come so far over the last few decades, but what else does technology have in store for us?

The Future

  • Multi-lingual – Dictation and voice recognition technology that can detect multiple languages without changing a setting.
  • Trigger Words – Using trigger words to auto detect when dictation software could be used to enable the recording.
  • MultiVoice – Some current digital dictation and voice recognition software you can train to understand you voice and your personal nuances, however if someone else uses your machine the artificial intelligence (AI) within the software can get confused. In the future software could have the ability to learn multiple voices and dialects.

I feel that there will soon be blurred lines between dictation/voice recognition software and virtual assistants. Software such as Siri was supposed to help us in our everyday lives, help us plan and organise our time better, however in reality it has fallen short of our expectations. In the future as technology advances and the difference between the two will become less distinctive, although AI still has a long way to go and to learn human behaviour and speech.

What are your thoughts on the future of dictation and transcription?

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Transcribing Podcasts

The podcast has revolutionised the way we communicate content to the public, it has been perfect for; Schools, colleges, universities, businesses, the travel industry, not to mention more common forms of media such as: radio programmes, magazines, political broadcasts, religious organisations, TV commentary and newspapers.

However to be able to search for podcasts over the internet you need written content, search terms and keywords, otherwise your podcast is effectively invisible, unless you spend time and money advertising.

Providing a transcript of the full podcast or excerpts of it will help with getting good search engine results and ultimately drive more people to listen to your content. By providing a full transcript you also ensure that you do not alienate the deaf or those with slightly impaired hearing. If you can’t hear clearly, then your only option is to read. In fact the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Communications Act 2003 encourages the provision of full accessible content for all broadcasts.

It is also quicker to read than listen to an audio file, you may find that some of your audience will prefer reading your podcast rather than listening.  By providing options you will not be limiting your audience.

Tips for transcribing podcasts:

  • Use Time Markers – Allow listeners to go to the point they want to hear, or they can read the transcript for that section
  • Transcribe in Intelligent Verbatim Transcription – This ensures a full, accurate transcript, removing all the ‘ums’, ‘ahs’, repetitions and other verbal habits people have. Making it easier to read and actually reduces transcription time and cost

How long does a Podcast take to transcribe?

The professional transcription industry standard allows one hour to transcribe 15 minutes of clearly recorded speech. It therefore takes a minimum of four hours to transcribe a one hour recording but this can be more depending on a number of factors including:

  • How clear the recording is
  • The clarity and speed of the voices
  • The number of people speaking
  • Background noise
  • Accents of speakers

The Benefits of Transcribing your Podcast

  • It allows you to create clickable links – Ensuring that you are always driving your listeners back to your website, which is always good etiquette
  • Reinforce the content – Some people like to have the written text in front of their eyes while listen
  • It is professional
  • Makes your content searchable – Which will drive more visitors to your site
  • Great for search engine optimization (SEO) – The transcribed files will allow you to create title, tags and description of the audio file which will be picked up by search engines whereas audio files do not currently have this ability

If you have a podcast and feel you would benefit from transcription services, then Fingertips Typing can help. Visit Fingertips Typing Services.

Written by: Cerri Killworth, Transcriber for Fingertips Typing Services.

Getting Your Posture Right

We spend more time in front of computers than ever before, but did you know that without correct posture and ergonomic equipment you could be putting yourself at risk of being diagnosed with Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). An estimated 9.5 million working days were lost due to Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WRMSDs)[1]

Symptoms include intermittent shooting pains in the hands, wrists, forearms, and back. It is important to have a correct typing position to avoid the development of RSI or other pain related diseases. Very few of us type for less than 2-3 hours a week, but the majority of us who sit for prolonged hours in front of the computer should keep the following in mind.

Here are our top tips for improving your posture:

  • Head, Back & Shoulders Straight – STOP slouching! Keep your shoulders and back relaxed Your upper arm should be straight and lower arm at 90 degree straight on the desk. Remember sitting in any one position for an extended period is unhealthy. Remember to get up and move around.
  • Keyboard and Mouse – Your mouse and keyboard should be as close together as possible. Your upper arm should be straight and lower arm at 90 degree straight on the desk. Your wrists should be at same level as the keyboard keys such that the arm muscle share the typing pressure, not only your fingers. You may require a wrist rest to help use your keyboard and mouse correctly, reducing weight on your shoulders. Keep your legs straight down on the floor.
  • The right chair – Your chair also plays an important role. It should be non-sliding and have five point bases. Fully adjustable with height adjustments, tilts, backrest, and arm rest is ideal. You may also require a separate back rest which will further support your back, as well as a foot rest to ensure that your legs are at a 90 degree angle to your desk.
  • Monitor: Ensure that the top of your monitor is at eye level (or slightly below). It should be 16 to 28 inches away from the tip of your nose.
  • Take Regular Breaks – RSA Action advises that you take a 5 minute break after every 30 minutes of continuous activity. Always sit up straight and get some exercise everyday. Be especially mindful of your weight.

Our simple checklist

  1. Check your body position – straighten up and don’t forget to move!
  2. Is your chair at the right height?
  3. Is your desk height suitable and comfortable?
  4. Do you need a footrest?
  5. Is your monitor at the right height and viewing distance?
  6. Is there enough desk space for your keyboard and space for your hands and forearms to rest?

Lets’ get physical

Just because you are sat down, doesn’t mean that you can’t exercise, plus this really isn’t even strenuous!

  • Eyes – Close your eyes tightly and then open them widely and repeat several times. Remember the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to look away from your screen at something 20 feet away from you.
  • Hands: Spread your fingers as far apart as you can for ten seconds and then make a tight fist and hold it and repeat.
  • Neck: Remember that warm up and cool down technique at the gym, slowly turn your head to the side and hold for ten seconds, then turn to the other side and hold. Slowly tilt your head to the side and hold it for ten seconds, then slowly tilt to the other side and hold. Repeat.
  • Shoulders: It is good to shrug! Slowly shrug shoulders in a circular forward motion, then reverse the motion in a backwards motion and repeat. Spread your arms apart and make slow circles forward and then backwards.

All of these techniques, together with ensuring your work space and equipment is correct will enhance your posture and help prevent RSI occurring.

[1] Source: HSE.Gov http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/musculoskeletal/msd.pdf

Improving your words per minute

Has anyone asked you, how fast do you type?

But, how do you calculate your words per minute?

The Basics of Words per Minute

Words per Minute, commonly abbreviated to WPM is used as a measurement of typing speed or reading speed. Typically each word is standardised to five characters (keystrokes) including spaces and punctuation typed in one minute, divided by five.

The famous sentence “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs.” contains 46 characters. If it takes you one minute to type this sentence, we can calculate your WPM:

Characters Typed in One Minute / 5 = WPM
46 / 5 = 9.2 WPM

What about accuracy?

It is important to try and maintain 100% accuracy, however realistically this is not always possible, but accuracy can be measured. In the quick brown fox example, if you mistyped one letter you would have still typed 9.2 WPM, but with a 98% accuracy.

Gross WPM vs Net WPM

Net Words per Minute is your WPM x your accuracy percentage, however measuring by NetWords can lead to greater mistakes and inaccuracies. As a transcriber or typist it is much better to slow down and be more accurate as ultimately it will lead you to be faster in the long run as you will not need to go back and fix your mistakes.

Accuracy and speed all boils down to the content

With any piece of work, if you know the subject matter or are familiar with the content then it will be easier for you to type quickly and accurately. Simple vocabulary is easier than typing technical or long words such as “pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis” (which out of interest is a lung disease and the longest word in the English dictionary!), words such as these require more though processing to establish the correct spelling to ensure higher accuracy.

Here is what you should look out for to get the most accurate gauge for your typing speed:

  • Length of Test – 3 and 5 minute tests tend to be the most accurate gauge of overall typing speed, they are long enough to produce a repeatable average speed and accuracy
  • Familiarity of Content – The less familiar you are with the content the better as it will be most accurate, repetition and familiar content is likely to give you an elevated score because simply if you type the same sentence over and over and you will get faster and faster, as you will remember the content and sentence structure.

How do I increase my WPM?

It is like any kind of exam revision, practice, practice, practice!

Find an article that is interesting to you and get typing, start off fast, then slow down to improve your accuracy, you will quickly pick up your speed and accuracy.

Test yourself, there are many typing test sites out there so find one and test yourself with content that you are not familiar with to continue to improve your ability.

If you find yourself with too much to do and too little time, then Fingertips Typing can help. Visit Fingertips Typing Services.

Written by: Cerri Killworth, Transcriber for Fingertips Typing Services.

Transcription and the Rio Olympics 2016

The opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro is only a few days away. This is the first Olympic Games ever to be held in South America.

This years games has not been without its controversy, with political, economic and health crises has dominated the headlines, and the doping scandal casting a shadow over the sport, in particular track and field, with 113 Russian athletes banned from participating.

As August the 5th gets ever closer, organisers are hoping to put these problems behind them, with all eyes on the opening ceremony, which is set to be a spectacular event.

There are 206 countries participating, competing for 4,924 medals across 42 sports in just 17 days, with multiple languages, transcribers and commentators all over the globe are poised ready to get talking and typing. With all the different languages and accents, it isn’t always going to be plain sailing for transcribers.

Here are a few things that they will be looking out for in order to present a professional service to the Olympics and the public.

  • Accent- With 206 countries taking part, there will be many different accents to look out for, the ways in which words are pronounced
  • Dialect – The distinctive grammar and vocabulary associated with a regional or social use of a language, transcribers will need to listen hard to ensure that the correct message is conveyed
  • Idiolect – an individuals’ distinctive and unique style of speaking
  • Paralinguistic – A persons’ body language, facial expressions and gestures (all other non-verbal communication) that add emphasis and meaning to the speakers message
  • Time coding – This is particularly important when it comes to subtitles, which determines the start and end times going through the footage frame by frame

It is going to be a busy and challenging few weeks for transcribers across the globe, communicating all of the stories, interviews and live action of the games, but should be very rewarding and enjoyable, watching all those athletes battle it out for that all important Gold Olympic medal!

Get on the podium

Everyone strives to be the best they can be, our day to day lives can be our own race, both business and personal. We all train hard to get to where we want to be, we focus on delivering and achieving our goals despite the hurdles that life throws at us.  Getting onto that podium can often be a challenge but not impossible and when we do win that first place, deadline, get the deal we feel like a gold medal winner.

If you find yourself with too much to do and too little time, then Fingertips Typing can help. Visit Fingertips Typing Services.

Written by: Cerri Killworth, Transcriber for Fingertips Typing Services.