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Wibbitz: Turn Text into Video, ‘Readers into Watchers’

Video editors of the world, unite! Wibbitz is a new news application that turns text based articles into short videos using RSS feeds and smart algorithms, complete with natural voice narration and infographics. In five seconds. It’s either the next big thing or the next sign that we’re one step closer to ‘The Fifth Element.”

They’re backed by Horizon Ventures (Spotify, Siri, Summly, among others), so it’s probably both.

The idea behind the technology falls directly in line with the habits of “news snacking” on mobile devices. But don’t publishers have a problem with taking their content and aggregating it? Not really, Wibbitz co-founder Zohar Dayan told me over the phone this week:

Not once they understand our long term vision. Our consumer facing vision is to be a platform that allows third party content providers to produce their own videos out of their own content. It’s mobile friendly and generates higher CPMs, especially with mobile devices.

We all know that producing videos is expensive, and as Dayan notes, “there’s only a certain amount of videos you can produce on a daily basis.” He hypothesizes that on a medium sized website, about 15% of articles have videos, some produced in house, some grabbed from the internet. “We enable them to leverage their own existing content and turn that 15% into 80% percent. Once they understand that, they’re interested in using it on their own platform, and that’s we’re going to enable them to do in the coming months.”

“What about nuance?!” the old-fogey in me exclaims. Not such a big deal. “Our algorithms are designed to cope with that. We teach it more and more types of articles and structures. A sports article isn’t treated the same way as a finance article,” Dayan says, and they keep tweaking what sorts of images and infographics accompany different sorts of stories.

They’re already producing over 10,000 videos a day. Dayan explains:

In terms of capability, what  guides us is scale. We want to create video content that scales. Especially with the very short shelf life of content these days, the more we produce the better it is for publishers and the better it is for the whole digital publishing industry.

Right now, the focus is on phones and tablets, but smart watches and hardware like Google Glass are prime real estate for Wibbitz. You can download the app now in the iTunes store. What do you think of it?

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