How to transcribe foreign language phone calls

Many people are unaware that Threads can transcribe foreign language phone calls.

Aggregating company communications

The primary aim of Threads is to get all of a company’s communications in one place. Of course, that is what email servers and telephone systems already do.  However, because these systems are separate and each user is isolated, they cannot do much more with that information. All they can do is regurgitate it when requested.

The growth of shared mailboxes

In fact, a large part of that information could be shared within the company. Most information contained in communications is not actually  private. Provided the personal and confidential information can be kept separate (which Threads does), then sharing other communications can greatly improve business efficiency. However, because some companies have not yet seen its value,  they are not all yet ready to share communications.  But many companies have, and that is the reason for the growth in shared mailboxes.

But you don’t have to share communications to extract  their value, and Threads is evolving to utilise its unique perspective on communications – ie the fact that Threads can monitor many disparate email accounts, messaging systems and perhaps, most significantly, phone calls. 

The value of transcribing phone calls

For example, one way to extract that value is to use artificial intelligence (AI) to  identify which staff are duplicating effort, or perhaps giving out contradictory messages. The system does not have to share messages to do that, merely flag it up, and put those staff in touch.

For Threads, processing emails and text messages is straightforward – because these are already in a form a computer can understand. Phone calls are different though.

Although they are sent through the network as 0s an 1s, they are not in form that any meaning can be extracted. To do this, it is necessary to convert speech into text, a process we call automatic speech recognition (ASR).

Future proofing communications

When designing Threads, we took the view that we would not tie it to any particular email system, or more importantly, to any telephone or ASR system. Communications are evolving so rapidly that Cloud services are changing all the time and it would be madness to lock subscribers into one particular ASR service.

We felt the subscriber should be free to choose whatever service suited their needs best – be that in terms of cost, functionality or performance. We also felt we didn’t want to just recognise speech, we wanted to understand it too.

Improvements in ASR technology

One of the benefits of this has been the ability of Threads to transcribe phone calls in languages other than English (which, because we are English, we respectfully call foreign).

When Threads was in the development stage, the availability and performance of foreign language ASR was very limited. But this has changed. There are now several services that support 10 or more foreign languages – to a standard we are happy with. This means  that you can now  transcribe foreign language phone calls in Threads.

In order to help develop and improve this new feature we are making foreign language support available to selective subscribers. Initially we will support French, Italian, German, Spanish and Portuguese languages.

If you are interested in beta testing this facility, then do let us know.