A company called Fast-Talk Communications that spun out of Georgia Tech has created a way for users to locate subject matter in an actual audio file simply by phonetically spelling and entering any term they want to find.

Say, for example, that you want to locate the word “Sudetenland” in an audio account of events leading up to World War II. According to Mark Clements, co-founder of the Atlanta-based company, you’d simply “sound out what Sudetenland sounds like. Take the name, ‘Sue,’ the city, ‘Dayton,’ and the word, ‘land,’ and string those together, type it in. That gets resolved into the set of phonemes you’re looking for” (phonemes are units of sound in any language of which all its words are phonetically comprised). The Fast-Talk software finds the string of phonemes that correspond to the letters you enter and guides you to all spoken references to Sudetenland in the audio file. Because this tool bypasses the whole transcription and indexing process, it delivers results fast. According to Clements, the system processes “on the order of 30 hours of material per second.”

More here.