A man jumping into a ceiling fan. A robot falling down stairs. Cars on an icy street hitting each other like bumper cars. The best videos on YouTube don’t need captions. But for those that do, YouTube has expanded its automatic captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing.
Although Google has been offering automatic captioning in conjunction with the speech-to-text engine from Google Voice Search since November, it was only available for select partners, leaving a majority of videos out in the cold. As of Thursday, the system will open to all users, allowing uploaders to have their videos processed and captions added automatically.
With 20 hours of video being upload every minute, plus millions of videos in the back catalog, YouTube says that not all videos will be captioned immediately. Uploaders can flag their videos for priority processing, and are encouraged to review the captioning afterward to tweak it for better accuracy.
As with all speech recognition – the results can get a little sketchy. Google cautions that it will never be perfect, it only works for English video at the time being, and that background noise or music can make it impossible to transcribe.