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What Is Speech To Text?
Just like its counterpart, Text To Speech, Speech To Text (or STT) is an example of Natural Language Processing, and will be found ever more frequently in the systems, services and gadgets rolling out in coming years. As its name suggests, Speech To Text refers to any technology that uses speech recognition to render spoken input as written text on a screen – and its functions are becoming more and more common.

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August 12, 2019

 

What is Speech To Text?

Just like its counterpart, Text To Speech, Speech To Text (or STT) is an example of Natural Language Processing, and is being found ever more frequently in apps, platforms and assistive technologies. Natural Language Processing (NLP) refers to technology that enables computers to understand and reproduce human languages, and STT functionality is a prime example of how this understanding is leading a change in how we live and work. As its name suggests, Speech To Text refers to any technology that uses speech recognition to render spoken input as written text on a screen – and its functions are becoming more and more common.

What can Speech To Text do?

Just as Text To Speech has hugely supported users with visual impairments, STT began as a form of assistive technology that was primarily developed to benefit the hearing impaired. Now it’s found readily available in most smartphones, giving mobile users an alternative to typing on a keyboard, isntead saying aloud what they’d like entered into a message or email, alongside many other functions.

Speech To Text is what drives automatic subtitling such as YouTube’s closed captioning function and also aids in creating legal transcriptions while, most prominently, being used to run virtual assistants such as Siri, OK Google, Alexa and more. It’s now possible to request reminders, send emails and schedule appointments by asking a phone or desktop application to complete the task, keyboard-free. 

Converting the nuances of human voice into a digital text is complex and requires a vast amount of data input from different voices, covering extensively a language vocabulary in order for Machine Learning (ML) techniques to accurately transcribe human language input. For NLP platforms, STT is a major technological challenge that demands huge amounts of human voice input. It is not something that can happen over night. The leading NLP-based platforms then continue to learn from ongoing inputs once a solution is in the wild, as the broader the inputs, the better the results that come from the digital assistants and AI powered transcribing services.

Speech To Text in Healthcare

The healthcare field is an industry whose name appears most often when discussing the benefits of Speech To Text software. Chief among the services STT provides is medical report dictation, an option that sheds huge amounts of time from a healthcare professional’s workload. For perspective, it’s estimated that 150 words a minute is a typical pace for human speech – but, conversely, most of us would struggle to type over 50 words within that same sixty-second timeframe.

Medical admin, including crucial patient reporting, is one of the areas of healthcare that doctors are most frustrated by… but, along with other forms of AI, Speech To Text programs free up healthcare professionals of all roles to reduce their administration time, and take on the tasks that matter the most to patient care.

The Development of Speech To Text

Many who have long term experience of using STT will be quick to tell you about its former limitations, but this technology has now come far enough to merit mainstream use. While Text To Speech is a simpler process, Speech To Text’s challenges lie in the complexity of the spoken word, as our accents, intonations and pace are just some of the impeding factors in a software’s ability to understand us. Recent years have seen improvements in how STT breaks down spoken input, allowing it to better process the information it needs to display. As Apple, Google and Amazon lead the way in constantly updating this technology, Speech To Text is sure become a sophisticated and hugely beneficial mainstay in increasing areas of our lives.