TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: PRODUCT REVIEW: Podcasts Converted to Text

PRODUCT REVIEW: Podcasts Converted to Text

Monty Solomon (
Thu, 17 Nov 2005 22:08:36 -0500

By BRIAN BERGSTEIN AP Technology Writer

BOSTON (AP) -- Suddenly the universe of downloadable audio files known
as podcasts seems as enormous as the Internet. Name a topic _ from the
weather in Asuncion to the ZigBee wireless technology _ and there is a
podcast about it.

But while the Internet's vastness is accessible because of
deep-probing search engines, comparably authoritative services for
podcasts and other multimedia haven't really emerged.

That's because search programs are primed to catalog text. When they
encounter an audio or video file, generally they determine the
contents by reading the titles and other descriptive tags, known as
"metadata," that creators voluntarily add.

It's useful, but much like examining only the first few lines of a
Web site. Reading the whole thing is a lot better.

With that in mind, a few companies are trying to make search engines
actually listen to big audio and video files. From there,
speech-to-text software can generate written transcripts, which are
searched in addition to metadata.

Perhaps best known has been Blinkx Inc., an information-management
startup that gets its speech-to-text software from Autonomy Corp.

Now comes BBN Technologies Inc., a defense contractor that developed
elements of the Internet. After tinkering with speech-to-text programs
it created for U.S. intelligence services, BBN has produced Podzinger,
a Web service that mines the content of podcasts.

A third service, Podscope, from a broadcast-monitoring company called
TV Eyes Inc., performs a similar trick, but with a twist. CEO David
Ives says Podscope uses some voice-recognition technology but mainly
scans for phonemes _ the individual sounds that make up syllables _
rather than full words.


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