Inching Towards Automated Transcription

by | Mar 12, 2018

Speech recognition software is becoming more common everywhere. Siri, Google Now, Cortana, and Alexa can field questions on our smart phones, computers, and home “virtual assistant” devices. These tools do a reasonably good job recognizing and interpreting human speech without a lot of setup or training in a growing number of common languages.

Speech recognition technology has not yet crossed the threshold into the world of automated transcription. Automated transcription is considerably more complex than single sentence questions. It is rarely clearly enunciated or recorded, it often involves multiple speakers, and adds the elements of complex sentence structure, pauses, and punctuation. 95% accuracy is reasonably good over a six to ten word phrase that we can easily repeat if misunderstood but is not yet attainable over a lengthy interview or group conversation containing thousands or tens of thousands of words.

Even though the technology for completely automated audio transcription has not yet been achieved, many of us are looking for innovations that make transcription faster and easier, since traditional listen-and-type transcription can be time-consuming and expensive. To this end, I have created a new ScreenCast on the Transana Web Site demonstrating an approach to transcription that incorporates freely available speech recognition software on the Windows operating system that works with Transana. This method is not the holy grail in which you simply open a media file and the computer produces a text document, but it is also more efficient than the “listen and type” method that can take between four and six hours of transcription per hour of media file to complete.

The new Screencast is called “Using Speech Recognition Software with Transana” and is available at I welcome your feedback and look forward to hearing about your experiments with using speech recognition software to create transcripts of media files. You can reach me though the Contact Form on the Transana Web Site at