AI-powered voice transcription service Otter.ai wants to make it even easier for its business users to record their meetings. The company is today introducing a new feature, Otter Assistant, which can automatically join the Zoom meetings on your calendar, transcribe the conversations and share the notes with other participants. Though Otter.ai is already integrated with Zoom, the assistant is designed to make using transcription something you don't have to constantly remember to enable at the meeting's start or stop at the end, while also serving as a place where participants can collaborate by asking questions, sharing photos and more, as the meeting is underway.
The feature also works around the earlier limitation with Zoom, where only the meeting host could use the Otter.ai integration directly.
The idea to automate meeting transcription makes sense for the remote work environment created by the pandemic, where people have been splitting their time between work, parenting, homeschooling and other duties. This can often lead to meetings where users are pulled away and miss things that had been said. That's one area where Otter.ai can help. But it can also help with issues like overlapping meetings, or larger meetings where only a few topics are directly relevant to your work -- but where you'd like to be able to review the rest of the meeting discussion later, instead of in real time.
To use the new Otter Assistant, users first synchronize their Google Calendar or Microsoft Calendar with Otter's service. The assistant will then automatically join all Zoom meetings going forward, where it appears as an additional meeting participant, for transparency's sake.
The assistant also posts a link to the transcription in the Zoom chat for everyone to access. In other words, this is not a feature to use to skip meetings without your boss knowing -- it's designed for those times when everyone has already agreed the meeting will be transcribed.
As the meeting continues, attendees can use Otter's live transcript to highlight key parts, add photos and make notes. They can also ask questions via the commenting feature, as opposed to speaking up -- which may be helpful if you're in a noisy place at the time of the meeting.
Once the assistant is enabled, you don't have to remember to turn on Otter.ai for each meeting, and you can even use your headphones to listen to the meeting in progress. The Otter Assistant will still be able to record both sides of the conversation.
However, you are able to turn Otter Assistant off on a per-meeting basis via the "My Agenda" section on the Otter website, which will include new toggles next to each meeting you have scheduled.
When meetings wrap, you can also have Otter.ai configured to automatically share the meeting notes with all the attendees.
The Otter Assistant is available to Otter.ai Business users, which are upgraded plans that start at $20 per month, and include features like two-factor authentication, SOC2 compliance, advanced search, export, custom vocabulary, shared speaker identification, centralized data and billing, and more.
To date, Otter.ai says it has transcribed over 150 million meetings, up from 100 million in the beginning of 2021 . The company doesn't provide details on its total subscriber base, but did note earlier it saw a sizable 8x increase in revenues in 2020, leading up to its $50 million Series B, announced in February.