Conference calls can drone on if you’re not the one doing the talking — but most people can’t afford to tune out in case they miss something.
Based in Shanghai, Josh Newlan often finds himself on his own fair share of calls, often at odd hours of the day because of the time zones too, according to a report in CNN Money.
So, the program manager at Splunk came up with a small program called “Say What?” to do the paying attention for him.
While Newlan is on the call, his computer microphone listens in while a python script runs on his computer. IBM Watson’s speech-to-text service also transcribes what’s happening on the call.
When Newlan’s name is mentioned, the program automatically sends him a transcript of what was said a minute before and a little bit after so he has context.
That could create some awkward pauses for people awaiting his response, but Newlan thought it through. He has time to read the meeting notes quickly because the script waits 15 seconds before playing a recording of Newlan saying “Sorry, I didn’t realise my microphone was on mute” to make up for it.
By then, he should be able to catch up.
“I do run the risk of losing credibility as to whether I’m actually listening in meetings now, but I’m not too concerned about that. I made this as a joke, and my coworkers know that,” Newlan told CNN Money.
Newlan, a self-taught programmer, was able to build it in a day during a company hackathon, so his employer is at least in on the joke. As for his other meetings, most of them are in Chinese, so it will be a while before Newlan finds a Chinese speech to text translator that will let him totally space out of a call.