Use Guide to turn web articles into videos

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AUSTIN—There are plenty of apps that aggregate all of your favorite stories into one handy place, or let you save stories to read later—think Google Reader, Instapaper, Pocket, Flipboard, and Readability, to name just a few. However, if you’re in a place where you can’t actually read, but you can watch or listen to something, your stories will have to wait.

That’s where Guide comes in. The app turns your articles and stories into mobile videos to watch at any time. The Guide team was at the Startup Showcase of South by Southwest Interactive to demo the app and the technology behind it. It presents an easier way to consume media when you don’t have the time or inclination to read an article.

The concept isn’t entirely new. Several apps—among them BuzzVoice—take Web articles and convert them into an audio report. Guide hopes to stand out by adding video to the mix.

Guide uses an advanced text-to-speech platform to take articles and pair them up with onscreen avatars. The avatars then read the story out loud to you. They even get their own news desk to make it feel just like your local nightly newscast. If the story has any images or videos, Guide will include them in the newscast: Images appear on a “screen” behind the reporter, and videos play at designated breaks within the story. Guide calculates how long the video will be based on how many words the article has, and then places the other media within the story at set times.

It’s kind of creepy, but in a futuristic way. In the demo we saw, the avatar looked freakishly human, yet spoke with a monotone robotic voice. However, she read the story quite smoothly, and the integration with the in-story video worked well. Guide has several different avatars to choose from, including humans, robots, and critters, so you can pick the anchor you like best.

Guide is in private beta now, but will launch on the iPad and Android tablets in April. There will also be a web app launching in May, and then a Google TV app coming in summer 2013.

This story, "Use Guide to turn web articles into videos" was originally published by TechHive.

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