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Otter.ai Launches Live Video Meeting Feature for Zoom

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Person learning or working from home
Image: fizkes - stock.adobe.com
Those of us who are used to sitting in on several calls a day know the challenges of capturing notes in real-time, especially as we work from home during the coronavirus pandemic. The process of live notetaking just got a little easier for remote employees using Zoom thanks to a new feature from speech-to-text transcription service Otter.ai.
 
Live Video Meeting Notes for Zoom, as the name suggests, lets participants take notes by highlighting, annotating, commenting, and adding photos in real-time during a meeting. Users can choose to create a secure, live interactive transcript directly from a Zoom videoconference or after a meeting is over. There’s a bonus for remote workers who prefer to use headsets or earbuds; Live Video Meeting Notes can capture both sides of a conversation even with a headset.
 
Live Video Meeting Notes relies on artificial intelligence (AI) to sync audio, text, and images to generate accurate speech-to-text transcripts on any device, such as a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. To enable this, Otter.ai developed a proprietary stack that includes automated speech recognition, speaker identification, word synchronization, and summarization.
 
Otter.ai and Zoom have a longstanding partnership, so existing Zoom users can already sync their recordings using Otter Voice Meeting Notes. Otter usage with Zoom meetings has increased five-fold in the past few weeks, as most companies moved to remote work environments due to the pandemic, according to Otter.ai.
 
The newest version is fully integrated into Zoom, so the meeting owner can start the transcription from within the application and then share it with the team. Previously, one would need to start the Zoom call and then manage Otter through a separate interface. The full integration makes it another feature inside Zoom, obviating the need to go to the Otter application.
 
Another feature that should be appealing is the headset support, where Zoom is directly streamed into Otter. I use Otter with every conference call I do, but it always needs to be on speaker. This generally isn’t an issue if I’m in a home office. But in the future, when we are let back out of our homes, I’ll be able to use it in places like Starbucks, WeWork, and the United Lounge without disturbing other people or having others overhear the conversation.
 
The latest feature is available for paid subscribers of Otter for Teams and Zoom Pro. Otter for Teams is an enterprise web and mobile app with additional security features like two-factor authentication. Otter for Teams also includes calendar integration, centralized billing, and team-based account management, provisioning, and reporting.
 
Otter for Teams with Live Video Meeting Notes is a valuable collaboration and productivity app for businesses. Its AI engine can learn unique names, industry-specific terms, acronyms, and jargon. Users can train the app to recognize vocabulary unique to a company or an industry, ensuring better accuracy and proper spelling of words or names. From personal experience, Otter isn’t perfect yet and still misspells some words, but it’s getting better. One feature I’d love to see is the ability to edit words while the transcription is live, and I’m told that’s on the roadmap.
 
For the next two months, Otter.ai is offering Otter for Teams for free to those who sign up by May 1. This could be a game-changer for millions of students, who may have mobile devices but not access to broadband and laptops at home. Research shows the transition to distance learning has been especially challenging for students living in lower-income neighborhoods. Kids living in their comfy homes with big-screen laptops in Palo Alto can work effectively, but many kids in areas like LA only have mobile phones, so Zoom integration democratizes the use of features like Otter.
 
Otter for Teams with Live Video Meeting Notes is designed for small screens, making it easy to highlight text and click links on a phone. Whether it’s Zoom or another videoconference platform, school and university students can record lessons or lectures on any mobile device without taking notes. Instead of focusing on notetaking, students can collaborate more freely with teachers as they deliver a lecture by commenting or sharing information in the app.
 
Small businesses with up to 10 people can also try out Otter for Teams for free. Otter.ai stores all notes in one place from different platforms, whether it’s Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx, or Google Hangouts. This way, remote workers can stay organized and access key information presented in meetings quickly.
 
For Zoom, the use of third parties to deliver value-added features is important. Zoom may seem like a huge company with their massive market cap, but it’s still a relatively small vendor. The ability to use best of breed vendors, like Otter, enables them to accelerate feature development, while not having to incur the software development costs.
 
Every organization is looking to increase meeting productivity right now. Speech-to-text services have come a long way to make meetings more efficient, so employees can spend their time on higher-level tasks. One final note, although Otter is now integrated into Zoom, it works fine with all the other collaboration apps such as Cisco Webex and Microsoft Teams, but that requires running two apps instead of one.

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