Audioburst launches a web and mobile search engine for audio news

Audio is beginning to play an increasingly important role in how consumers connect with information, thanks to the popularity of podcasts and other short-form audio programming, improvements in voice technologies, and the growing consumer adoption of smart home devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home. Today, a company called Audioburst is unveiling a new search engine designed to connect you to the information found in audio content from podcasts and programs aired on the radio.

Tel Aviv-based Audioburst, which also has staff in New York and Palo Alto, has been developing its technology for an audio search engine and content library over the past two years.

The idea is that much of the information arising from daily news programs or topical podcasts or even TV news is not available in an organized, searchable fashion. Its broadcast over the radio, and then it largely disappears; or its only heard by those who subscribe and then listen to a particular episode of a podcast series, for example.

The larger goal is to make this sort of audio content available across platforms including from Audiobursts own search engine; major search engines like Google and Bing; from smart assistant apps, like Google Assistant; and from voice platforms like the Alexa-powered Echo speakers and Google Home.

Audioburst had previously rolled out its Google Assistant integration, its News Feed skill for smart devices, and developer API. Now, the company is unveiling Audioburst Search, a web and mobile-optimized search engine that helps you find, discover, and listen to audio news.

The product works by ingesting audio content from a number of sources. In some cases, Audioburst is proactively scouring the web for available live streams to import. However, the company is largely focused on partnership deals with radio stations, radio programs, and podcasters. Its also starting to venture into the TV space, with plans to index TV news, and is chatting with a small handful of auto manufacturers about integrating Audioburst into their own in-car entertainment systems.

To make audio content searchable, the company pulls in millions of audio segments daily from now over 1,000 sources. While its not disclosing a full list of partners, if you look in its search results, youll find that its indexing the likes of Bloomberg Radio and some Fox radio programs, numerous radio stations, as well as a lot of podcasts, particularly in the tech space.

After ingesting the audio, Audioburst leverages technologies like A.I. and natural language processing to understand not just whats being discussed, but also the context.

It also doesnt only match users search queries to those exact same words when spoken, either. For example, it knows that someone speaking about the president in a program about U.S. politics was referring to Donald Trump, even if they didnt use his name.

The audio content is then tagged and organized in a way that computers understand, making it searchable. And its broken into smaller sections clips it calls bursts which Audioburst identifies by understanding when the audio changes.

It can identify when an ad break starts, when there are station breaks, when a new speaker joins, when there are pauses, and other signals that tell it when to start and end an audio clip a process that all happens automatically.

This allows its search engine to not just point you to a program or show where a topic was discussed, but the specific segment within that show where that discussion took place. (If you choose, you can then listen to the full show, as the content is linked to the source.)

As the technology is further developed, its ability to understand consumers personal preferences will be improved. For example, if youre a fan of a particular sports team, and they won their last game, you might hear audio content featuring more praise and cheering from the commentators; but if your team lost, the news returned may have a less emotional tone.

Audioburst isnt there yet its only beginning this process of understanding listener behavior. But in the long-term, the company believes this would pave the way to things like personalized audio advertisements, alongside a daily news briefing, for example. It may also choose to generate revenue through more traditional methods, like sponsorships and promoted content. Revenue would be shared with the audio contents producers.

But these are goals that are still a year or two out, we understand.

While the startup is making its technology available across platforms web, mobile, and one day, cars, it sees potential in the voice-powered smart device market, in particular.

Of course, voice assistants and smart speakers are the natural interfaces to use our library, because its all about voice, explains Assaf Gad, VP Marketing and Strategic Partnerships atAudioburst.

It allows you to ask a question and get a result. Instead of Alexa reading it out loud to you in her voice, you can get the actual speaker, he says, noting that audio could come directly from a public figures sound bite or the host of the audio program itself. Its a more human voice, Gad adds.

The company recently closed on a $6.7 million round of funding led by Japanese speech recognition tech companyAdvanced Mediato further develop its underlying technology and its consumer-facing products.

Its audio search engine, Audioburst Search, is live on web and mobile here.

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