Start-up trend: convert text to speech, now with actual human beings

Start-up trend: convert text to speech, now with actual human beings

Since everyone seems to be drowning in a flood of information, new start-ups emerge to throw us a lifebuoy. These entrepreneurs develop new ways for us to process information. The latest trend: converting text into speech.

megaphoneThe idea behind these kind of converters is that people can just walk away from the computer, but are still able to follow what’s happening on your favorite blog. So you can listen to the latest Next Web Blog posts while baking eggs or doing the dishes. A good time-saver, so several people have seized this opportunity to develop the next big thing. Here’s a short summary of the existing services. Please let me know if you have one to add.

When Boris and me crashed the parties of the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco last month, we bumped into the guys of Swiss start-up Dixero. Luca Mascaro and Dafne Gobbi have developed a service that transforms posts into audio by using different computer-generated voices. Shortly after I had published this post, Frederic Martin notified me that Dixero wasn’t the only text-to-speech service out there. He used French service Xfruits, which has a rich set of converting features including RSS to speech. Though it’s not just a European matter, as there’s also a San Francisco-based start-up transforming text into speech called Stitcher.

But a service from Israel takes the whole transforming thing to another level. Bnarrator uses actual human beings for the translating. It’s just a matter of installing a widget, which keeps Bnarrator up to date about new content. Then one of their narrators starts to read the post up loud. So instead of a metallic-sounding speech-robot, you’ll hear a friendly and natural voice telling you what your favorite blogger has written about. To turn it into a profitable business, Bnarrator first plays an advertisement. Yet they don’t keep it all the revenue, as 30 percent goes to the site owner and another 5 percent goes to charities for blind people. They don’t stop to amaze me.

Mashable has already installed the service and they now have 623 narrated posts. Like the service too? Anyone can sign up here. To sum it up: their service is as charming as the narrator in this video:

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