SK Telecom works on real-time AI service to automatically provide subtitles

By Lim Chang-won Posted : October 27, 2021, 15:16 Updated : October 27, 2021, 15:23

[Gettyimages Bank]

SEOUL -- Through joint work with a domestic drama production and distribution company, SK Telecom, a top mobile carrier in South Korea, will develop a real-time artificial intelligence service that automatically provides subtitles to improve the viewing rights of deaf people who have complained about a lack of sign language broadcasting or subtitles. It would also contribute to the overseas distribution of K-content.

JTBC Studios, a subsidiary of South Korea's pay-TV network JTBC, provides video content and broadcasting technology consulting for AI deep learning, while SK Telecom (SKT) develops original technology for voice recognition and subtitle generation optimized for media.

"Through the partnership with JTBC Studios, deep learning content and broadcasting technology consulting can be provided, solving the biggest challenge of AI media technology development," SKT's media business support division head Lee Jae-kwang said in a statement on October 27. "We hope that these media technologies will contribute to improving viewer welfare and spreading Hallyu (Korean cultural wave) through K-content."

SKT said the automatic subtitling service would provide language services for overseas viewers and resolve viewers' complaints that conversations in movies and dramas were sometimes buried in background music.

In closed-caption subtitling services being provided by major broadcasters, human workers listen to conversations of video content and caption them, causing latency and the omission of some conversations. Closed caption subtitling has not been provided to video on demand (VOD) and over-the-top (OTT) media other than real-time broadcasting.

VOD is a media distribution system that allows users to access videos without a traditional video playback device. OTT is a means of providing television and film content over the internet at the request and to suit the requirements of the individual consumer. The Korea Communications Commission, a media regulation body, has announced a plan to expand the mandatory ratio of sign language broadcasting and mandate subtitles, screen commentary, and sign language for VOD and OTT.

Automatic subtitle file generation can drastically reduce preparation time and cost for exporting cultural and entertainment content, SKT said. Dialects, background music, and noise that interfere with the speaker's voice recognition lower the accuracy of subtitle extraction, so specialized AI voice recognition and noise removal technology are needed.

For the TV broadcasting of a professional golf tournament in June, SKT introduced various technologies to increase the level of realism and immersion, such as an audio separation technology that eliminated on-site noise so that viewers can vividly hear conversations between players and caddies. 
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