World-first approach to reduce latency in live captioning

Press release
Jun 02, 2016 07:00 (GMT +00:00)
  • Ericsson and BBC Research & Development have partnered to deliver a successful proof of concept which significantly reduces the delay associated with live captioning
  • New captioning approach to begin phased roll out across the BBC's portfolio of channels from summer 2016
  • Ericsson to offer service to clients globally to improve the viewing experience of Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities around the world

Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) today unveiled its latest innovation in live captioning, developed in partnership with BBC Research & Development (BBC R&D) - a new, world-first approach that significantly reduces latency in live-captioning.

Until now, live captions for television are typically displayed on screen later than the audio that they represent. The latency is caused by the necessary workflow to create live captions. This latency can be frustrating for audiences and has been subject to regulatory attention both in the UK and around the world.

Ericsson has partnered with BBC R&D to devise the new approach which minimizes the delay between live captions and the audio they represent by utilizing the time taken to compress the audio and video streams for transmission and distribution. As captions take less time to encode, a compensating delay is used to ensure pre-prepared, accurately authored captions are synchronized with the audio. During programs with live captions, this compensating delay can be decreased, which significantly reduces the apparent delay of the live captions.

Ericsson and BBC R&D have completed a successful proof of concept and the new approach will begin a phased roll out across the BBC's portfolio of channels from summer 2016. Ericsson will also offer this service to clients globally to improve the viewing experience of audiences around the world.

Thorsten Sauer, Head of Broadcast and Media Services, Ericsson, says: "The inherent latency of live caption delivery is a challenge for broadcasters the world over. Our aim has been to improve this experience by leveraging our significant expertise in both language services as well as compression and our overall research in the media space. Together with the BBC we believe we have made some very significant advancements in the delivery and quality of live captioning and set a new bar for the future of the industry."

Ericsson's real-time platform supports live captioning in various languages for broadcasters around the world by using speech-to-text, newsroom integration and rapid offline content preparation. The enterprise-level, schedule-driven software platform, which was developed in-house, uses the best possible speech recognition and stenography technologies to power Ericsson's live captioning services. It allows multiple captioners to prepare and deliver real-time services for clients while maximizing re-use of the caption data after it has been broadcast - for example, by helping to power content discovery and enrich archive search. The platform is currently being used to deliver live captioning services for major broadcast clients around the world.

Ericsson's closed captioning business is one of the largest in the world, with hubs in Australia, the UK, France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and the US. Ericsson has been providing captioning services for over 30 years and delivers 230,000 hours of captions every year, 100,000 of which are live. It is also the world's largest provider of TV audio description and sign-language translation.

More information about Ericsson's Broadcast and Media Services portfolio can be found here.


About the BBC Research & Development

BBC Research & Development plays a key role in shaping the future of media technology by developing and licensing prototypes of systems to bring new and improved forms of content to our audiences, and influencing international standards. It advises the corporation on what is coming in the future: what it needs to be involved in and influencing, what the winning and losing technologies are likely to be and what do we need to lead, follow or ignore.

Broadcast and Media Services press backgrounder

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