Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Ears to the Ground: spokenLayer Hopes to Breathe New Life into an Old Form: Audio

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Ears to the Ground: spokenLayer Hopes to Breathe New Life into an Old Form: Audio

Article excerpt

In a world where newspaper stories can no longer be confined to the printed page, and when editors are constantly looking for new ways to tell those stories--whether through slideshows, video, listicles, or intriguing new immersive technologies like the Oculus Rift--one content delivery method is often forgotten. Audio.

SpokenLayer, a company that provides audio narration for written articles, is hoping to remind you about this platform. Launched two years ago, it's the brainchild of Will Mayo, an engineer who came up with the concept as a way of coping with his dyslexia.

"I was finishing my engineering degree, and I thought, why can't I listen to these books instead of read them?" he said.

Initially birthed as an iPhone app, Mayo soon realized that his idea would function best by empowering publishers to reach their audience on mobile devices, so he started building the current platform, which takes a text story and turns it into something digital and portable. An audio experience, Mayo calls it.

These aren't podcasts, he makes clear. Instead, SpokenLayer is designed to produce shorter, compelling segments that can be heard in small groups at a time.

"Podcasts never really worked within other media sites because they were too long or irrelevant," Mayo said. "Our design is that once you start listening to one story that leads you into another. It's a much more personalized, radio feel."

According to Mayo, while video integration on newspaper websites has been increasing, the problem with video--and reading a story, for that matter--is that they demand a user's full attention. …

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