Note taking is a frequent concern of students transitioning to post secondary education. Keeping pace with lectures delivered at a fast pace, spelling, processing information and writing notes simultaneously are just a few of the barriers for students and professionals. Audio recording, as appropriate or permitted has been standard accommodation used by students to gather and review lecture information that might have been missed in class. For professional, note taking at meetings, lectures or with clients (as appropriate) are tasks that can be a challenge. From standard handheld voice recorders to smart pens, mobile device apps and computer based software there are many note taking solutions available for students and professionals currently for voice recording lectures.
One question regarding note taking frequently presented by students involves capabilities of attaining transcribed notes. Inquiry on use of voice recognition software, transcription of hand written notes or audio is often a question. With exception of real time transcription for individuals with hearing impairment, mainstream transcription or recognition has been not been accurate enough unless pay for human transcription services with costs ranging from approximately $1.00/min and up are used. Higher quality transcription, for better accuracy result in higher cost. A recent review from PC Mag ” Best Transcription Services of 2018″ compares current transcription services:
Recent kick starters like the Titan Note (what happed to that 2 year old kickstarter ??)promising transcription of audio recording using a recording device with transcription, was hopeful as a mainstream automatic speech recognition and transcription service, however has not become a reality. Recent development of the Otter AI service (see comparison above) now provides a mainstream tool for transcription of voice recording for a variety of purposes and users.
Otter AI Service & App
Otter AI is artificial intelligence development offering real time transcription of conversations, meetings, calls, video conferences, lectures or other voiced audio recordings. It provides automatic recognition using AI technology developed for transcription. With a user login, 600 transcription minutes are offered for free. A tiered monthly subscription dependent on amount of purchased is available. Six hundred minutes is a generous amount of free transcription!
The online Otter user interface provides an easy to use service. Google Chrome is the preferred online browser for the service. Below is a screen shot of the online user interface and transcription of a short 30 second audio recording using my PC computer native voice recorder and USB mic:
The Otter Voice Notes broke the verbiage into chunks with timeline assigned. The audio recording is readily available at the bottom of the screen to listen to the real time audio to determine accuracy. When the audio is played, the text spoken is highlighted to help you track the sound and text. An edit and copy tool for the transcribed text is available to correct errors and save or copy the transcription. Audio files are easy to import into the services for transcription of audio recordings from mobile devices, handheld voice recorders or other audio files from computer programs. The interface and tools are extremely intuitive and simple, making it very easy to use.
Transcribed text can be shared with others for editing or distributing meeting or lecture word processed documents. Although transcription is not perfect, initial use has found it remarkably accurate with easy review using text and audio to correct errors.
Additional tools within Otter Voice Notes include recording group conversations and phone calls. Examples of such transcriptions seen in the mobile device apps:
Features at the bottom of the above images show tools to review voice notes taken, record, and share voice notes. Settings allow you to connect with different accounts, record using Bluetooth and create your own user voiceprint (recognition).
My initial trial using the Otter AI app for iOS or Android Otter app and Otter AI service found it to be very promising. Using voice recordings from my PC voice recorder, other voice recording apps, recording in OneNote and exporting and importing from Sonocent Audio Notetaker were all successful with minimal errors. Although Otter can be used as a self standing audio recording and transcription tool, for students already using Echo Pen, Sonocent or OneNote, Otter can provide transcription of the audio with a few additional steps. For individuals with mild hearing impairment, Otter might provide an cost effective method for reviewing notes with assistance for editing to ensure accuracy. Otter may also provide notes for students taking online courses with video instruction or webinars for verbatim transcription.
Recording quality audio with a good mic is important. There is a wide variety of high quality mics for PC as well as mobile devices with a wide range of costs. A 2018 review on best mics for voice recording can be found at Podcast Insights ranging from $1,000 to under $100. After searching for an affordable and portable mic for PC or iPad Pro I recommend the following low cost, portable mics:
Samson Go Mic Portable USB -Approximately $40.00 from Amazon can be plugged into any USB port for omnidirectional recording. This will work for recording with Sonocent Audio Notetaker, OneNote or native PC recording app.
PowerDeWise mic for iPad Pro – Approximately $22.00 from Amazon. This omnidirectional mic with lapel clip was a great find and has worked will with my iPad Pro (2017). Mics used with older iPads did not work requiring search for a new one. This PowerDeWise works like a charm allowing recording using my iPhone, iPad Pro as well as Galaxy S phone.
Otter AI online service and apps are exciting new tools that can assist both students and professionals with note taking transcription of recorded information. It’s flexible interface allows transcription of imported audio files as well as directly within the Otter app or online service. Web services are required for recording within the services or app and transcription. Using a good mic when recording will improve accuracy of transcribed audio. Otter AI offers free service up to 600 minutes/mo.
Use of a quality microphone is recommended for best audio recording for best transcription.
More information can be found at Otter AI regarding the service.
Have you had experience with the app? Share if you have!
Carol @ OT’s with Apps