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News Nexidia Illuminates Captioning Solutions

Nexidia Illuminates Captioning Solutions

By: Michele Masterson

Speech Technology Magazine

Nexidia has released Illuminate, a suite of products that incorporates the technology behind Nexidia QC, its quality control software. In addition to Nexidia QC, the suite includes Nexidia Comply, for broadcast compliance with rules set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and Nexidia Align, for caption alignment; the latter is offered as an option for both QC and Comply.

A little over two years ago, Nexidia created Nexidia QC, which was designed to enable broadcast compliance of captions and video descriptions at Turner Broadcasting System and its CNN division, says Drew Lanham, senior vice president and general manager of Nexidia's media and entertainment division. "This was in anticipation of forthcoming regulations from the FCC around caption quality and video description," he says. "Turner was very smart about where the FCC was headed."

The FCC mandates that closed captioning for the hearing impaired adhere to quality rules, such as accuracy, screen placement, completeness, and synchronicity with spoken words. These rules apply to online video clips as well.

Turner deployed Nexidia QC two years ago and today the broadcasting companies uses it to monitor caption quality as defined by the FCC for 250,000 hours of programming a year. The launch of Illuminate came about when the company recognized that it had a common set of tools that could be applied to different markets at different price points and with different integrations; it needed a solution to assure broadcast compliance across all those deployments.

Another deployment scenario: cloud-based environments. "This is about distributing content to Netflix or iTunes or to your own Web site. You need to make sure that the captions are correct, and this is also governed by FCC," Lanham says. "We've effectively bifurcated the product."

Lanham says there are products on the market that tell users if a caption file is present—that can see the caption data and determine that it's there. But the products don't say if the caption file is representative of what's spoken in the audio.

"We know we're unique because we're actually comparing the caption file to what's spoken within the media to determine if the caption file is correct," Lanham says.

That technology is combined with voice activity analysis to determine the location of speech. "Using this, we're able to determine if there are missing or incorrect captions," Lanham says. "This is a phonetic search problem."

Caption files look like a series of search queries, Lanham explains. Neixidia's solutions create a phonetic index, search the index for what was spoken in the caption, check accuracy, and determine if the coverage is adequate—that is, if there are missing or incorrect captions. The same technology can also ascertain if a caption file is in synch with the media; if it isn’t, Nexidia’s technology can realign it with the media for subsequent reuse.   

The solutions are extremely cost-effective, especially in massively scaled environments, Lanham says, as the technology ensures the highest accuracy and also speeds up the process. “It would be very cost-prohibitive for a human to do this. Turner—which uses Nexidia Comply—monitors 250,000 hours of content per year. They estimated that it would take them 135 full-time people to watch caption files to monitor quality, every year.”

Illuminate was designed not only for different markets and customers, but to make the technology more accessible for a broader set of customers, Lanham says.

"Captions, until Nexidia came along, required human review," he says. "Nexidia provides a critical element to enable this type of automation in a broad variety of workflows and third-party tools to satisfy customer demand."