Plenty of startups give you new and different ways to read content on the Web, but NY-based SpokenLayer wants to give you a way to hear it.
Launched Monday as an iPhone app, SpokenLayer takes text articles online and either gives them to a human to read and record, or it uses text-to-speech synthesis to meet instant demand in a matter of seconds.
Founder and CEO Will Mayo said he created the app to address his own difficulties growing up with dyslexia.
“It was a real problem for me,” he said. “I could never learn by reading. I had to learn by listening.” Access to audible versions of books and textbooks, he added, helped him get through college and complete a graduate degree in engineering.
On stage at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York, he announced the app’s launch, as well as partnerships with publishers including The Atlantic, National Journal, TechCrunch and Endgadget. Later, he told me that he’s also been in touch with the International Dyslexia Association and a major K-12 publisher about applying it in educational contexts.
While about half a dozen other companies provide RSS to speech services, he said, SpokenLayer is distinguished by the involvement of authors and professional readers who give it an emotional layer.
Mayo plans to monetize the app with advertising, analyzing the content it’s serving to appropriately target listeners. It’s raised about $80,000 in seed funding so far.