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Google's Automatic Captioning System 'Live Caption' Is Here

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Google rolled out its Live Caption feature, which was first introduced at its I/O developer conference in May this year.

The technology will automatically caption videos and spoken audio on a device, except for phone and video calls.

"It's hard to enjoy that content if you forgot your headphones and can't play the audio out loud—or if you're one of the 466 million people in the world who are Deaf or hard of hearing, that content may be entirely inaccessible. That's why we created Live Caption..." Google said in a blog post.

The technology is helpful when a user is in a loud commuter train, or wants to follow along the conversation more closely.

The captioning happens in real time and completely on a user's device and will work even if the phone lacks cell data or Wi-Fi. The captions will always stay private and will not leave the phone.

The automatic captioning technology is small enough to fit on a smartphone. It will initially be available on Google's latest smartphone, Pixel 4, and will roll out to other devices like Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL later this year.

Google said it working closely with other Android phone manufacturers to make the feature available more broadly in 2020.

Google added automatic captions to videos on YouTube a decade ago to make online videos more accessible. However, the technology was not always available on other types of content, like audio messages from friends, trending videos on social media feeds or even content recorded by a user himself.

The feature can be launched with a tap on the volume slider of the smartphone. One can position captions anywhere on the screen and will not get in the way of the content one is viewing.

Google said it developed Live Caption in collaboration with individuals from the community and partners like Gallaudet University, a university for Deaf and hard of hearing people.

Live Caption currently supports English only. However, Google plans to add more languages in the near future.

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