Microsoft recently announced at its October Surface Event in New York a number of new products. While the new tablets and laptops were the primary focus, an important accessibility feature was also highlighted in the form of real-time captioning using the new Surface Earbuds and its integration into Office 365.
The earbuds feature two microphones to minimise background noise and improve audio clarity. The live demonstration showed how new functionality in Office 365’s PowerPoint can effectively show live captioning.
In addition to the captioning feature, PowerPoint can also be used to instantly translate the text providing improved accessibility to culturally and linguistically diverse audiences.
While automated captioning remains an issue in relation to its quality and accuracy, recent evolutions in audio quality, speech processing and improved integration between hardware and software have seen a notable improvement in the ability for largely usable captions to be more widely available at events and in the classroom.
The initial price of the Surface Earbuds will be $UDS249. There is currently no release date. For additional information, visit the Microsoft Surface Earbuds page.