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Posted on 10.21.2009 11:51 p.m.

Local Tech Startup Company Says, ‘Relax, We’ll Take The Notes’

Cogi captures the content of conversations and meetings

The Cogi interface allows users to review audio of calls, read a transcript of the important points, search the content, or share the call and transcript with colleagues.

The Cogi interface allows users to review audio of calls, read a transcript of the important points, search the content, or share the call and transcript with colleagues.  (Cogi illustration)

Source: Palmer Jackson

Have you ever hung up after a phone call and wished you could remember exactly what you just committed to? Have you found yourself distracted during an important meeting and realized you missed a critical point? A Santa Barbara company has taken on the challenge of solving this problem.

Cogi was started two and a half years ago by local tech veterans Bob Dolan, Mark Cromack and Palmer Jackson, and the company currently employs 15 people in downtown Santa Barbara.

Like many other local tech startups, the Cogi team is a product of area companies that were either acquired, downsized or have gone away all together. Jackson and Dolan spent more than six years at CallWave, a local Internet telephony company that went public in 2004 and has since shed most of its Santa Barbara employees. Cromack started CrystalVoice Communications, which was acquired by Global IP Solutions in 2007. With their backgrounds in software, telecommunications and Internet services, the Cogi founders began building an innovative way to bring conversations into the digital age.

Cogi is a monthly subscription service that allows users to capture, review and share the content of their important conversations and meetings. For $29.95 per month, subscribers can record their important calls and meetings and have key sections, or even the entire call, converted into text. The recorded call and transcript is available in the subscriber’s “portfolio’” on the Cogi Web site. With a click of a button, the subscriber can review the audio of an important call, read a transcript of the important points, search the content, or share the call and transcript with colleagues. The Cogi “portfolio” is much like your e-mail inbox, except this inbox contains your important calls and meetings. Users can view just the highlights in transcript form, or click a button to view the entire transcript as an HTML page (e.g. the “minutes” of the call or meeting).

Cogi gets into the call stream in two ways. The easiest way is through the downloadable software, which resides on the user’s PC or Mac. The user enters a phone number into the software and Cogi calls the subscriber’s phone and then connects the called party; it does not require VoIP as the calls are made between regular phones. Once the call is established, Cogi is there to let you capture the audio, flag important moments for transcription, or even switch to “off the record” mode, which turns recording off. If subscribers are not at a computer, they can call the Cogi access line and key in the number they’re calling. Cogi is developing iPhone and BlackBerry applications that eliminate the need for two-stage dialing.

Since some of our most important meetings are in-person, Cogi also has a way to capture those conversations with what it calls “Meeting Mode.” For this mode, the user dials the Cogi access line from a conference phone or cell phone and recording begins immediately. Cogi conducts some sophisticated signal processing on the back end to ensure that the audio from calls and meetings ends up sounding better than it would on a phone.

With such a large percentage of our business documents and business communications now in digital form, it’s easy to see how applications like Cogi will become part of our daily lives within a few years. Some of the most obvious target markets for the service include lawyers, accountants, consultants and salespeople ... not to mention journalists!

Wendy Thermos, a news reporter in Los Angeles, uses Cogi for story interviews.

“I’ve been very impressed with Cogi,” she said. “It’s super easy to use and it performs an invaluable service. Once an important conversation floats into the ether, those words are gone forever. But with Cogi, it’s literally right at my fingertips.”

Click here to view a 90-second Cogi demonstration.

— Palmer Jackson is Cogi’s chief operating officer.




comments powered by Disqus

» on 10.22.09 @ 02:10 PM

Sounds like a cool application, but I wonder what the rules of recording a telephone conversation are.  Plus, 30 bucks/month is pretty high.  I prefer Jott which is very similar.  You can also play some games like this with Google phone.

All these services give transcripts, but the problem is mostly with accuracy.  Humans talk funny, from person to person and computers are not as powerful at picking up patterns in language as people.  Heck, even people misunderstand what somebody says all the time.

Will Cogi interrupt the conversation and say “What?  What’d you say?” 

Nice to see someone being innovative, though.  And what about the new iDroid platform - does what iPhone iCant….

» on 10.22.09 @ 05:19 PM

Thanks for the comments, Matt. Here’s a link to the rules about recording a telephone conversation:

http://www.cogi.com/about_call_recording

Regarding accuracy, Cogi is 97 - 98% accurate because there is some level of human invovlement in the transcript process. Your point is correct that 100% automated speech-to-text is not accurate enough yet. Also, the applications you mention only transcribe a voicemail message. We transcribe the entire phone CONVERSATION, which is much much tricker to do :)

Regarding the cost, if you look around the internet for transcription services, you will see that our prices is very competitive (about $1 per minute of audio transcribed). Most services you will find are more like $4 per minute and the turnaround is much much slower than ours.

» on 11.02.09 @ 06:16 PM

Hey,

Nice article.  Happens to be that 75% of this technology has been around way before cogi-  record my calls, call recorder card, recordiapro are a few.

call recorder card and recordiapro allow you to record incoming calls which happens to be extremely handy for most people and i believe (not 100% sure) that you dont need to pay monthly but buy a bulk of pre paid minutes that you can use any time.

cogi has the nice transcription service and looks pretty web 2.0 ish but honestly, i could just outsource the transcriptions for cheaper- especially thru odesk or the like.

interesting to see this niche break open.


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