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Microsoft launches Transcribe Group to write meetings


Microsoft's internal incubator, Microsoft Garage, has launched its new app, Group Transcribe, which offers a different view of how meetings are written.

The Group Transcribe app reimagines copying meetings as a more collaborative process, with everyone recording the meeting simultaneously across their own devices for higher accuracy.

It also provides an instant translation of spoken languages in more than 80 different languages.

To use the app, one person starts the meeting first via their own device, and can then invite other attendees to join the session via Bluetooth, QR code, or by sharing a link.

After the other participants join the session and the meeting begins, each person sees the text appearing in real-time through their own devices.

The app, supported by speech and language technology with artificial intelligence, can copy with higher resolution and support the speaker based on the volume of sound captured by the microphone of each phone used in the meeting.

By comparing a person's voice level, the cloud tries to determine which device is closest to the speaker and language preferences for that speaker.

This means that speakers are also accurately categorized in the app, which may be a challenge for other copying applications where only one person registers.

In addition, if meeting participants want to speak their own language, the application can provide translation to other people's devices in their own language.

Microsoft says Group Transcribe is designed with accessibility in mind because it makes it easier for deaf, hearing-impaired people and non-native speakers to participate fully in meetings.

The app itself was created by Microsoft employees who collectively speak more than a dozen different languages and dialects.

Like most cloud-based copy services, the app should not be used for highly confidential meetings.

However, Microsoft has built accurate data and privacy controls that allow users to determine whether or when they want to share their conversation altogether.

The audio and text input data collected are sent to Microsoft's speech recognition and translation techniques with a randomly generated ID, not your real name.

Although Microsoft does not keep the minutes of the meeting and the recordings themselves after they have occurred, Group Transcribe encourages participants to contribute to the recordings so that Microsoft can improve the service.

This allows the company to keep text copies created by speech and voice recognition when all meeting participants agree to participate in that session.

By reviewing the data, Microsoft aims to improve speech recognition capabilities and speaker support over time,

Microsoft says it removes identity from meeting recordings by removing long strings of numbers that can represent things, such as credit card numbers or phone numbers.

Users can delete previously shared recordings at any time, but otherwise, they are kept for up to two years via encrypted servers, the company says.