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Real-time text: a Primer

June 2010

Person using real-time text software

Communication technology has truly revolutionised our lives. We embrace an ever growing assortment of devices, applications and services to communicate anywhere, with anyone, at any time. Text based communication remains hugely popular and comes in many different flavours. Within this array of text services, real-time text is the most conversational method and can offer users the closest equivalent in text of what voice telephony offers for spoken conversation.

While the Internet is the most appropriate medium for real-time text communication in today’s world, it would be a mistake to think that real-time text is a new concept born out of the Internet. In reality, it has been around for decades, but mostly confined to a particular user group, namely deaf and hard of hearing people.

The introduction of the telephone has transformed society profoundly and, for a long time now, the ability to communicate remotely with others over the telephone network has been a pillar of modern existence, at work, but equally so in our social life. The mass adoption of mobile phones from the late nineties onwards further solidified voice telephony as a vital aspect of contemporary life.

This article discusses real-time text, a conversational text communication method perhaps less well-known, but with a particular, and distinct, application domain.

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