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Everyone in online meetings is about to get their own assistant. Otter.ai announced today the launch of Otter Assistant for Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and Cisco Webex for Otter Business Plan users. The tool will quietly join all meetings, transcribe all of the discussion, create a set of minutes, and share this with everyone — even if the user isn’t around.
Transcription and recording services have been available as additions to products for some time. Google generates closed captioning in real time. Transcription options for Teams and Jitsi are also available. Otter announced its product for Zoom in May, and it is now extending it to other platforms.
Otter wants to create a more cohesive and openly ready tool, one that can offer more of the agency of an able assistant. The tool will watch the human’s calendar for meetings and even join before the user, like a good assistant would.
Sam Liang, founder and CEO of Otter.ai, said in an interview that the goal is to have the assistant join automatically with a minimum of configuration. He explained that he wants to go “beyond transcribing.”
“We’re focused on enabling meeting collaboration within Otter.ai,” he said.
The service also offers users the chance to snap screenshots and insert them as illustrations to the meeting notes. The users can also add their own text notes or highlight particular sections of important dialog.
Otter’s product is offered in several tiers, and the higher level tiers gain the ability to tune the natural language processing algorithm for better performance. The Pro and Business level users can add custom vocabulary words, a useful option for jargon-laden discussion filled with acronyms and terms that only insiders deploy. The Business tier starts at $20 per user per month.
Making sense of meetings
The service also offers a more elaborate search engine so users can drill down into the transcript looking into what particular people said at particular times. The transcriptions for all platforms (Meet, Zoom, Teams, Webex) are stored in a central location and can be automatically shared through services like Dropbox. Any search can access all of the documents.
“One user called Otter his ‘super index of conversations,'” Liang said. “Otter works in a hybrid work world, so whether you’re in office for in-person meetings or if you participate virtually on any video platform or mobile device, you can use Otter wherever you meet.”
Will this make everyone more careful about what they say in meetings — more circumspect when they know that an assistant is quietly recording everything? Or will it unlock their ability to interact without worrying about frantically typing notes?
“Otter Assistant has users covered,” explained Liang. “So they can focus on collaborating and engaging during the meeting, or users have notes if they miss a meeting or join late.”
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