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My affair with Jott

I was amazed with Jott when it first came out and it quickly became my favorite memory aid, mind declutterer, and to-do list organizer. Jott allows you to speak a message and have it transcribed to your Jott dashboard, Twitter, Remember The Milk, Google Calendar and many more services. It works through a combination of speech recognition and human transcribers. Then the honeymoon ended and Jott brought its free version to a close. I recently deemed this tool important enough to me to sign up again and it has already paid for itself.

I let Jott send me reminders to both SMS and email. Our neighborhood lacks an association so I sent myself a note. This is what Jott sent me in email. (Click the picture for a larger view) Thank you Jott! Shh. Don’t tell Cathy.

jott reminder.egg  on Aviaryjott reminder.egg on Aviary.

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Having fun with Jott

Jott is one of my favorite web services. I use speed dial on my phone to call Jott, I speak the name of the person I want to send a note to (usually ‘myself’), I record my message spelling out difficult words "My name is McCaughan M-c-c-a-u-g-h-a-n", then I speak the date and time for when I want a text transcription of my words sent to my email and phone as sms. Jott’s magic is not in its speech to text software but in its human backup. Computers do the bulk of the work but humans (India I think) listen to difficult messages and provide a fairly accurate transcription although sometimes there are errors. My first reminder today:

Get a plunger.

Okay. I am pretty sure I never said to get a plunger. I can go to the Jott website and listen to my original message to figure out what I really meant. I also like to have fun with the messages sometimes:

Get a plant light, save the plants. Save the plants, save the world.

You can also use Jott to post to Twitter, Remember the Milk, and 40 some odd other services.

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It’s people. Soylent Jott is made out of people. They’re making our text out of people.

Last night, Lissa Kay asks if I know how Jott works. I used to work at The Learning Company in its foreign language division which was bleeding edge when it came to speech recognition (which is different than voice recognition btw). I knew all about Lernout & Hauspie and how to trick Dragon Speech. Jott’s accuracy (not demonstrated last night) has always amazed me because there is no training involved. You sign up for an account and instantly start using it. Most speech-to-text software requires some training which usually involves reading several paragraphs of text to the software so it can learn the nuances of your speech patterns.

As it turns out, Jott combines machine translation and humans to convert the speech to text.

If we were dealing with a very limited set of words, in a known context, spoken very clearly by a accentless person in a noise-free environment, then pure machine-driven Speech Recognition might have been the way to go. Instead, we wanted to be immediately useful and simple to adopt, letting any English speaker jott using an ordinary cell-phone, their natural voice, in a realistic setting (their car, running between meetings, etc.). So we use a mixed Human/Machine method for transcription, and that blend will change over time. [Source, Entrepreneur27, Interview with John Pollard of Jott]

Since Jott uses humans, you can spell difficult words to assure they get turned to text correctly. I have inquired to see if Jott plans to support IM, SMS, and emails sent to the inbox.

See a screenshot, the numerous services to which Jott can post, and my thoughts on Jott at the bottom of Rough Week Behind Redux to Follow.