Mashable: September 11, 2011
Spark of Genius--Booktrack: A Soundtrack for Books
Quick Pitch: Synchronized ambient sound effects for books.
Genius Idea: Technology that recognizes an individual’s reading speed and paces the soundtrack with corresponding text.
Mashable’s Take: Booktrack’s sound effects for iPad and iPhone books are designed to create a background soundscape that matches the text. Sherlock Holmes, for instance, opens with the sound of a heavy rain. At moments that match the text, there might be sounds of footsteps, an explosion or suspenseful music. A scrolling arrow keeps track of the reading speed at which the app is matching sounds to text and can be easily sped up or slowed down.
Says Booktrack founder Paul Cameron, “It makes a new and engaging way to read and really enhances the experience and enhances your imagination and keeps you in the story longer,” he recently told The New York Times.
PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, the company’s lead investor, evidently agrees. HarperCollins, Penguin Books, Sony/ATV Publishing, and others have agreed to at least try the format.
Crazier concepts have succeeded, and other book platforms are experimenting with adding social networks and videos to texts — both of which are arguably even more distracting than sound.
But one thing I like about books is that they’re not movies. There’s an inherent silence on the written page that is part of the experience of reading and a pleasant departure from the constant pinging of screens.
It’s not hard to imagine that concentration on one medium at a time will become outdated. But for me, the written word is still perfectly adequate on its own.