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Innovation & Job News

Arlington startup that creates audio on the fly will hire at least one

SonicWords, a new B2B startup based in Arlington, Va., turns web and mobile text into spoken words on the fly. The cloud-based platform officially launched two weeks ago, and according to CEO and cofounder Bill Lim, the company is currently having "positive conversations with content providers."
The idea of translating text or web content to audio is far from new—GPS providers have been giving turn-by-turn navigation by robotic voice for years. Lim says that SonicWords is different in the quality of the voices it uses. "We have the best voices in the industry," he explains. "You could listen to them for hours on end."
SonicWords also provides a monetization opportunity for content providers by injecting audio advertisements into the audio versions of their content. According to Lim, listeners are essentially a captive audience; if they are listening to an audio version of a New York Times article, they aren't going to "change the channel" to skip the ads the way radio listeners do.
"We're focusing on helping content providers solve problems in this new mobile world," Lim explains. "Look at the Post. It was sold for a quarter of a billion dollars, and it used to be a multi-billion-dollar company. We can help them recoup some of that loss."
SonicWords may be new, but Lim has a leg up in Andy Powers, cofounder and CEO of Communiclique, who is on SonicWords' board of directors. SonicWords, Lim says, is licensing Communiclique's cloud infrastructure and VoIP functions,. (Incidentally, Communiclique also powers Speek, the local startup for conference calling that has gained national attention in recent months.)
SonicWords is looking for an in-house engineer, as well as a few individuals with strong language skills to help "refine [their] dictionaries. Language is a living, breathing thing," says Lim. SonicWords can support content created in English, Korean, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish, and Lim would like to grow that list. "We're strong on the back end," he explains. "We need to keep refining voice and accuracy on the client-side."

Read more articles by Allyson Jacob.

Allyson Jacob is a writer originally hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is the Innovation and Job News editor for Elevation DC. Her work has been featured in The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati CityBeat. Have a tip about a small business or start-up making waves inside the Beltway? Tell her here.
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