Zoom uses AI to add automatic transcription to its videoconferencing service

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Companies using Zoom for videoconferencing will soon be able to get automatic transcripts of their conversations thanks to a new feature announced today. Called Smart Meetings, it’s supposed to help prevent people from wasting time taking and sharing meeting notes from calls.

Instead, the system will use machine learning to understand who’s speaking and when, then take down what they’ve said for posterity. Customers will be able to scroll back through the transcript, click on words and get automatically directed to the portion of the video playback of a call that includes what people were actually saying at that time.

That feature will be useful int he event Zoom’s new feature isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Automated transcription systems at this point aren’t perfectly accurate, though they’re usually good enough to give the gist of what was said and let people refer to the tape.

The company isn’t building its voice recognition capabilities in house, however. Zoom cofounder and CEO Eric Yuan said that his firm is working with a startup that he advises to provide that feature, rather than spending the time to create it themselves.

In the future, Zoom has other AI features planned to help companies get the most out of meetings. Yuan said that the firm is looking into providing feedback to participants about when someone is dominating the convereation, and using computer vision to figure out when people have checked out.

AI isn’t the only emerging technology the videoconferencing startup is working with. The company partnered with Meta to bring its capabilities into augmented reality using that startup’s soon to be released headset. It’s a move that helps put Zoom and Meta in closer competition with Microsoft HoloLens, which offers telepresence videoconferencing through a Skype app.

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