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Ericsson and BBC R&D partner on live captioning

BBCEricsson has partnered with BBC Research & Development on a proof of concept that the companies claim, “significantly reduces latency” in live captioning.

The development is designed to minimise the delay between live captions and the audio they represent, getting rid of the frustrating lag that is typically associated with live subtitles.

The companies said that the new captioning approach makes use of 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,” said Ericsson.

The BBC is due to begin a phased roll out of the captioning concept across its portfolio of channels from summer 2016, while Ericsson will offer the service to clients around the world.

Ericsson’s head of broadcast and media services, Thorsten Sauer, said that together BBC R&D and Ericsson have made “some very significant advancements” in the quality of live captioning and “set a new bar for the future of the industry.”

“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,” said Sauer.

Ericsson claims to deliver 230,000 hours of captions every year, 100,000 of which are live. The company has captioning hubs in Australia, the UK, France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and the US.