Tag Archives: voice recognition

Audioboo: Can it be used for news reporting? Some case studies

Yesterday Journalism.co.uk spoke with Audioboo founder Mark Rock about the potential for the iPhone audio app to be used for local news reporting:

“[E]veryone knows what’s happening to traditional media and local newspapers are dying by the moment. But is there a very simple and easy way [for others] to start collecting audio data and using it?”

As the tool is developed – both by Audioboo’s team and third-parties once the API is released – there’s even more scope for using geotagged audio news reports.

You can see the possibilities from how it’s already being used by some Audioboo-ers:

Pie & Bovril
The Scottish Premier League site ran a trial of the app last weekend. The aim? To get ‘sound byte updates’ from fans in and around stadia, the site’s David MacDonald told Journalism.co.uk.

“Although the big clubs are well catered for of an afternoon with live commentary we felt that the smaller clubs weren’t really in a position to service the information requirements of their fans who can’t make it along for whatever reason or those ex-pats who are keen to find out what’s happening from afar on a Saturday afternoon,” explains MacDonald.

“We pick up the information via feeds from Boo which automatically populate the appropriate section of our site.”

P&B has tried updating web pages using email to text gateways and experimented with SMS updates, but these were time consuming and failed to convey the mood of fans at the game, he adds.

“It’s early days but we feel this could be a really neat, low cost way, of getting information back from around the grounds to those unable to attend. We’ll continue to grow the trial and get a few users on it and see how it goes from there,” says MacDonald.

London SE1 Community Website
James Hatts, editor of community website London SE1, published by Banksidepress said the site is also experimenting with Audioboo and has uploaded newsworthy clips, such as updates on a local fire.

“I think AudioBoo has great potential for local reporting – it’s just so easy. No waiting to get back to the office, no transcribing endless recordings, no editing, no waiting for YouTube (for example) to process your video,” says Hatts.

According to Hatts, the ‘idiot-proof brilliance’ of the app is comparable to using a Flip camera and could make it an important part of a modern reporter’s kit.

However, using it in a way that makes economic sense is a key consideration for Bankside:

“It’s early days for Audioboo but at the moment there’s no way to drive traffic to our own site from a boo page, for instance,” explains Hatts.

“There are interesting future possibilities for using voice recognition software to display contextual adverts around the audio player (or even to insert relevant audio adverts).

“At the moment it’s great for novelty value and building an audience and building a brand, but even an operation like ours which is run on a shoestring needs to be able to derive some revenue from our content.”

Our Man Inside
Rock said Audioboo should be used to augment other reporting and that audio was an emotive medium – both ideas that seem to have been taken on board by ‘social media mongrel’ Christian Payne in his use of the app.

“[W]hile i experiment, I have fallen back in love with audio. It makes you think more about how you describe your surroundings. It makes me want my surroundings to explain themselves. Either by getting close to a person and their opinion or close to environmental sounds,” he writes in a blog post.

“Combined with a photo attached to act as a catalyst for the imagination, the listener is not being force fed the story. They have to take a moment to let their imagination get involved in the media.”

Problems blogging with SpinVox

After speaking to SpinVox about the potential advantages of its blogging technology, some bright spark at Journalism.co.uk thought it would be a good idea to test it out ‘in the field’.

So I did – or attempted to – from yesterday’s conference on widgets in Brighton, the idea being that I could phone in updates to the blog providing instant reaction and a way to record my notes on the day in draft form.

I thought wanting to compose my post before calling it in would be the biggest problem, but you quickly get used to ordering your thoughts in this way.

Instead two major problems occurred:

  • I used the service about six times during the day, having to nip out of sessions or make the call in breaks. On four occasions I received text messages after I had returned to the session telling me that my message could not be converted and that I would need to send it again.

This was too late – it wasn’t convenient to leave the conference again to make another call and if I did so it wouldn’t be such a direct reaction.

There is an option on the SpinVox site to add new vocab to their voice recognition service and this might be a useful preparation tip, particularly at a conference where widgets is the unfamiliar buzz word.

Maybe I don’t enunciate well enough and I can forgive it not recognising certain technological terms, but confusing ‘in’ and ‘and’ is surely the basics.

Aside from these issues, there also seems to be no way to assign a headline to the blog post over the phone – this requires going in and editing the blog, which defeats the point.

Another thing – the length of post you can leave through the service is severely limited – about two minutes – so it really can only be used in a Twitter style. (In which case I’d rather just use Twitter).

This is an emerging technology – so if we can get it sorted I’d like to try it out again as I’m not sure I got the whole experience.

As a plus point, the service didn’t pick up any background noise from the conference space, which is pretty impressive.

SpinVox have built up a business on converting mobile voicemail to text and the Times are already using their blogging software – so was I doing something wrong?

UPDATE – SpinVox have contacted me and are looking into it to see if their might be a problem with my account, so hopefully they can give some advice.

UPDATE – Paid Content’s Robert Andrews is currently using SpinVox to update his Twitter account (though this might not be using the same technology as the blogging service) and it seems to be working perfectly.