YouTube To Launch Live Video Captions Today At Google I/O

Today YouTube and Google are taking online video captioning to the next level, unveiling their new live video captions during the Google I/O live video stream later today.

YouTube and Google have been on the top of video captioning technology for some time now, striving to make video content available to everyone from the hearing impaired to people speaking foreign languages.  But today they are taking online video captioning to the next level, unveiling their new live video captions during the Google I/O live video stream later today.

Janko Roettgers of GigaOM’s NewTeeVee wrote about the announcement.  He says that, “According to Google’s Technical Program Manager for Accessibility Engineering Naomi Black…the new feature will be unveiled with the Google I/O live video stream, but is also going to be available to any YouTube Live Partner.”

Google and YouTube captioning technology has been automatically adding text captions to YouTube videos for over a year now, and English captions could be translated into a number of languages using YouTube’s auto-translation system.  However, the auto-captioning and translation systems weren’t always the most accurate.  But according to Roettgers, the new YouTube Live captions system relies on real-time captioning professionals instead of the auto-captioning algorithms.

For the Google I/O keynotes, Google is employing San Francisco-based Computer Assisted Realtime Transcription professionals to take charge of the captions.  Naomi Black from YouTube told NewTeeVee via email, “Working in teams onsite at I/O, they type several hundred words a minute on specialized stenography equipment.  We project the text on screens at I/O for the audience and also streamed live to an AppEngine gadget that delivers it to our website and YouTube channel.”  The English language captions can then be translated in real time using YouTube’s auto-translation service.  Several hundred words a minute…wow.  I’d love to see this team in action!

Black also told Roettgers that the YouTube Live captions could easily be applied to other streaming services on the web.  She said, “We designed the gadget primarily to meet the needs of YouTube Live partners, but the code can easily be repurposed to work with other streamed text providers, and even other sites.  You could use it on any website to provide live captions, regardless of where the video is hosted, or even without video at all.”

This is a huge leap forward for deaf viewers and other proponents of mandatory captions, who have been fighting the cause for quite some time now.  Deaf actress Marlee Matlin said last year, “Closed-captioning is mandatory on television, but not for TV programs on the Internet.”  It can be frustrating for the hard of hearing, as well as for viewers with English as a second language or no English at all, to watch videos on YouTube, as well as to watch live streams online.  There have been a number of YouTube Ready vendors to help video producers make their YouTube videos more accessible with closed captions for awhile now, but until now there wasn’t really an easy way to caption live stream videos on the spot.  Now there is.

Google I/O developers conference will be streaming live from 9AM to 6PM PST today, May 10, 2011 at

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.