Now, an AI will ‘read’ articles on BBC’s online platform

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on November 17, 2020 Published on November 17, 2020

BBC Global News on Tuesday announced the global launch of an AI-enabled text-to-speech tool on its international digital online platform,

The tool converts text into speech using artificial intelligence, ‘reading’ it aloud with a synthetic voice.

The media major has worked with Microsoft to create the new voice and AI software “using deep neural networks to create a synthetic voice with a natural tone and clear articulation of words,” it said.

Initially, the tool will be used for 16 feature articles within BBC Worklife called The Life Project, which are now available in audio.

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After December 31, 2020, the smart tool will be rolled out across select articles from BBC feature verticals, including BBC Culture, BBC Future and BBC Worklife.

“These sections will display an icon inviting users to listen instead of reading. The experience will be available across multiple platforms and BBC editors will personally handpick the best dynamic articles for the audience,” BBC said.

The audio will continue to play even after users navigate away from the article on desktop or a phone is locked.

Articles will be curated based on the user’s behaviour pattern along with the relevance and importance of stories.

Errol Baran, global SVP, Business Development & Innovation, Advertising & StoryWorks, said: “As the popularity of audio grows, this new product offers audiences another complementary way of engaging with our content in a format that suits them.”

The platform will also offer features for its commercial partners.

BBC is planning to add the product to other areas of the site along with other features such as background soundscapes and infinite scroll as part of an initiative called Project Songbird.

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Published on November 17, 2020
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