AI start-up documents history of steel industry
Tees Valley start-up, Vlogbase, is helping researchers to document an oral history of the North East’s steel industry.
Vlogbase was founded by Teesside University graduates Luke Stephenson and Andy Surtees. It uses artificial intelligence to recognise words and objects in digital content such as videos and audio files.
Luke and Andy have worked with the Steel Stories project to digitise more than 35 hours of audio recordings of men and women connected with the former SSI plant at Redcar, talking about the significance of Teesside’s steel industry and its impact upon the world.
Steel Stories is a joint project carried out by researchers at Teesside University, together with the Kirkleatham Museum near Redcar, to record the lives of Teesside’s men and women of iron and steel. The research team is led by Professor Natasha Vall, Associate Dean (Research and Innovation) in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities & Law, and Dr Joan Heggie, a Research Fellow and formerly the project manager of the British Steel Archive Project.
By using Vlogbase’s technology the researchers were able to quickly access pertinent information in the recordings by typing the relevant term. The software searches through the recordings and instantly highlights the point in the audio where that particular word is spoken, saving the research team hours of transcribing and searching through the material.
Vlogbase is based at Teesside Launchpad, Teesside University’s enterprise engine. It received support from the DigitalCity fellowship accelerator programme.
Luke said: “From a user’s perspective, it’s very simple, it’s just a line of code that they add into their website and allows them to search their entire archive.
“We’re really excited about the potential for this product and it’s fantastic that we’ve already been able to use it to help Steel Stories and the feedback so far is that it has been an invaluable tool in their research.”
Professor Vall said: “This technology has allowed us to bring to life the rich material that is contained within the steel stories oral history interviews. Oral memories are a fragile yet extremely important part of our heritage, particularly in an industrial region experiencing rapid change.
“This technology has allowed us to see new ways in which we can preserve, curate and most importantly, engage existing and new audiences with these memories of the industrial region.”