Saturday, March 13, 2010

IBM Computer Summarizes Boring Conversations

Simon Tucker and colleagues at Sheffield University and Steve Whitter at IBM Research in Almaden, California, have develeloped an automatic speech recognition system called Catchup, which is:

designed to summarise in almost real time what has been said at a business meeting so the latecomers can... well, catch up with what they missed. Catchup is able to identify the important words and phrases in an ASR transcript and edit out the unimportant ones. It does so by using the frequency with which a word appears as an indicator of its importance, having first ruled out a "stop list" of very common words. It leaves the text surrounding the important words in place to put them in context, and removes the rest.

A key feature of Catchup is that it then presents the result in audio form, so the latecomer hears a spoken summary rather than having to plough through a transcript. "It provides a much better user experience," says Tucker.

In tests of Catchup, its developers reported that around 80 per cent of subjects were able to understand the summary, even when it was less than half the length of the original conversation. A similar proportion said that it gave them a better idea of what they had missed than they could glean by trying to infer it from the portion of the meeting they could attend.

Read the full article from NewScientist titled, Boring conversation? Let your computer listen for you.

No comments: