This morning Google announced the launch of automatic captions in YouTube. Now YouTube video captions have been around for a while, but with 20 hours of video uploaded every minute, not a very high percentage of those users take the time and/or trouble to include captions. The new auto-captions will use Google’s ASR, or automatic speech recognition technology, which might ring a bell if you’re familiar with Google Voice. The same recognition algorithms will apply, although some users have been a little skeptical of the awkward transcribing Google Voice has produced so far. Oh well. At least Google admits the captions won’t be perfect.
Not only intended to help the hearing impaired, these captions will also be translatable into 51 different languages. I’m sure the translations will be even sillier than the original captions, but just the idea is pretty cool to be honest.
Before now, captions had to be submitted in a special format (which I’ve tried and don’t understand), but with the auto-cap timing, YouTube users will only have to submit a text file with a transcript of exactly what’s being said in their video, and YouTube will match the captions to when the words are being said. It’ll be easier for YouTube users to upload captions, which will in turn make it easier for deaf, hearing impaired, or non-native speakers to access YouTube. High-fives all around.
But what could this mean for SEO? Will these text files being submitted be crawled by Google? If so, it’s easy to imagine the potential spammers will see in shoving a ton of keywords in there in lame attempts to optimize. I can just see them rubbing their hands together and laughing quietly, albeit maniacally, at the chance.