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Otter.ai launches assistant that joins Zoom meetings

Otter.ai released an assistant that attends and transcribes the Zoom meetings on an employee's calendar. The feature keeps everyone up to speed, even when they miss a session.

Otter.ai has launched an assistant that automatically joins Zoom meetings and takes notes, allowing employees to catch up when they're late for a discussion or miss it altogether.

The company announced the feature, called Otter Assistant, this week. Otter.ai said the assistant helps workers who missed a portion or all of a meeting by transcribing the session.

"You can send your Otter Assistant to meetings on your behalf, so you can focus on what's relevant without worrying about missing anything," Otter.ai CEO Sam Liang said in a statement.

Workers can set Otter Assistant to automatically join the Zoom meetings on their Microsoft Outlook or Google calendars. An employee can also send the assistant to a live, unscheduled meeting by providing it with the meeting link.

The assistant appears in meetings as a participant and announces in the chatroom that it will transcribe the proceedings. The assistant shares the notes with meeting attendees, who can highlight and comment on items during the session. After the meeting, the person who used the assistant can share the transcript with others, allowing them to edit the text and add images.

The Otter Assistant is available to customers with an Otter Business subscription, which costs $20 per month.

Raul Castanon, an analyst at 451 Research, said the Otter Assistant will be helpful to workers trying to keep up with their busy schedules.

Otter.ai's Otter Assistant
Otter.ai has launched an assistant that attends and takes notes during Zoom meetings. The assistant appears as a participant in the meetings.

"The assistant can be particularly relevant for professionals dealing with a multitude of conference calls during their day and a growing volume of information [to keep track of]," he said.

Constellation Research analyst Dion Hinchcliffe noted that companies should take care when using transcription services to avoid privacy or information security problems.

"Companies should ensure their standard privacy policies allow recordings of business meetings," he said. "[Attendees] should be required to disclose that Otter Assistant is being used to transcribe a given meeting."

Transcription is a crucial feature for video conferencing providers. Microsoft released live transcription for Teams earlier this year, and Cisco's Webex also has a built-in transcription feature. Zoom and Google Meet integrate with Otter.ai for meeting transcripts.

Castanon said these transcriptions provide a quick reference for setting plans or following up on issues, while allowing everyone present at the meeting to focus on the discussion instead of taking notes. ­

Mike Gleason is a reporter covering unified communications and collaboration tools. He previously covered communities in the MetroWest region of Massachusetts for the Milford Daily NewsWalpole TimesSharon Advocate and Medfield Press. He has also worked for newspapers in central Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont and served as a local editor for Patch. He can be found on Twitter at @MGleason_TT.

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