The Israeli startup, which previously only had a mobile app, launched its tech as plugins for Chrome and Firefox. It mostly reads articles to users and shows pictures of important things
There is really no excuse for people who don’t read the news now. No more complaining that the text is small or getting bored after skimming the first paragraph of an article. As if readings the news wasn’t easy enough (come on people, we pretty much write at a seventh grade reading level), an Israeli company has found a way to make it even easier by turning text articles into videos that highlight the important information.
While the technology used to be just for smartphones, the company, Wibbitz, on June 24 announced that its product, which is described as a “play button for the web,” is now available as a web browser plugin for Chrome and Firefox.
Wibbitz takes text-based articles and uses algorithms to analyze the text and extract interesting information and turn it into a highly engaging video format using Natural Language Processing technologies. With the touch of a button, articles become easily digestible videos made up of images, clips, info graphics and text-to-speech.
I tried using Wibbitz on Chrome on an article on Jpost.com, and the plugin generated videos of the articles I clicked on. The video basically just read the article out loud and showed pictures of important people, places and things mentioned in the article. Other videos I created sometimes showed relevant video content while reading the article. Wibbitz, however, cuts its videos at 40 seconds, so the video cuts off before finishing the article.
Turning articles into a broadcast
The technology has been available as a mobile application since last June and it generates 10,000 clips per day, according to a statement from Wibbitz. It converts news items into videos based on text taken from top online news publications that have partnered with Wibbitz.
The new web plugins initially supports close to 200 news feeds from major online news publishers, including Yahoo News, the New York Times, BBC, The Guardian and others. When users download the plugin, a play button icon appears in the browser’s address bar. If the button is blue, it means the page is supported by Wibbitz’s technology and the written body can be converted into a 40 second video. Wibbitz said one of the main advantages of its technology is that it allows publishers and brands to generate videos at a fraction of the cost and effort of traditional methods.
“We’ve created a technology that not just automates the process of video production at scale but is also contextually sensitive,” Zohar Dayan, Wibbitz’ co-founder & CEO said in a statement. “It is a video experience that adapts itself to the user depending on the device type, screen size, and orientation. We have big plans for our technology and in the future we will be able to add the button to platforms like smart TV, and even wearable devices.”
While I get it when it comes to mobile – no one likes reading long articles on a small screen – using Wibbitz in lieu of reading actual news online is just dumbing down the content and in no way could users truly understand issues by watching a 40 second clip the way readers can understand an issue by reading 500 words. However, if it just reads the article from the top until 40 seconds runs out, then at least the user will get the most important information in an article, and many people who best absorb information auditorily could benefit from this application. But if you are the kind of person who zones out when someone reads to you, you are better off reading the article yourself.
Wibbitz was founded in 2011 by Zohar Dayan and Yotam Cohen. It has raised $3 million from Horizons Ventures, Lool Ventures, Initial Capital, and Kima Ventures. In February, it won an award for being the best product or service at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.