London-based Trint, a startup co-founded by Emmy-winning journalist Jeff Kofman, is tackling a pain point I know all too well: the time it takes to transcribe an interview (or any audio) accurately.
To solve this particular problem the company is employing machine learning and speech-to-text technology to automate transcribing, but — perhaps crucially — outputting the result in a user interface that recognizes that automation typically only gets the job partly done.
Specifically, Trint integrates a web-based audio/video player and text editor, with the outputted automated transcription synced to the audio player’s playhead. It’s a deceptively simple idea but one that makes a ton of difference when checking (and editing) a transcription for accuracy.
“We glue the text output of automated speech-to-text to the original source audio. And that means that you can follow it like karaoke,” explains Kofman via an audio file transcribed by Trint. “And because it’s an editor, if you have a word like Muammar Gaddafi, a name like that that’s not correctly transcribed, then you can fix it. And in seconds you’ve got the moment you need and you know you’ve got transcripts you can trust.”
Of course, the outputted text means that otherwise hard to search content becomes searchable, taking Trint’s application way beyond journalism or academic interviews.
“In the digital age, more than 80 percent of the content that we look at is recorded content, whether it’s video or audio, and none of it’s searchable,” Kofman says.
“There’s this concept of dark data. If you look at a video on YouTube or on a news website or at a corporate website and you want to find a specific reference you have to listen to it. It’s that simple. There’s no shortcut to finding that specific part of content.”
Trint originally launched in September 2016 with funding from the Knight Enterprise Fund and the Google Digital News Initiative, as well as support from BBC Worldwide Labs and Cisco. It claims to have close to 7,000 regular users in just nine months, which hasn’t gone unnoticed by investors.
The U.K. company has closed $3.1 million in “pre-Series A funding,” in a round led by Horizons Labs, the Hong Kong-based seed fund operated by the managers of Horizons Ventures.
Kofman says the new capital will be used to support the development of technology to transform Trint into an “end-to-end publishing platform.” The startup also plans to roll out a mobile app, and a series of enterprise solutions targeting international media organizations, universities, businesses and government agencies as potential Trint customers. A new feature that will make online videos and podcasts “searchable, shareable and accessible” is promised, too.