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I love the idea of reading to music, especially if the music is dynamic and changes to match the text. While I haven’t tried Novel Effect (a Shark Tank and Alexa Fund alumnus), I’ve been trying out Disney’s read along skill on the Google Home with my kids for the Golden Book series. It’s a fantastic experience and makes a book much more engaging.

There were likely a lot of hurdles to encounter in being able to create a dynamic reading experience. The acoustic echo cancellation has to work well, the microphone has to be listening for key words and doing continuous speech recognition or transcription, and the latency has to be extremely low to keep up with the reading and music.

There are some workarounds to this. The music can be made to blend from one scene to another, it’s possible to just time the transition so there’s no microphone listening (assuming 100 words per minute or something similar) or you can implement some local keyword spotting.

There are a few things I’d still wish for… like pausing and resuming mid story (especially with young kids interrupting or asking questions) or being able to adjust the tone (if this is for bedtime reading or just for fun during the day). However, this is the type of experience that highlights the capabilities of a voice first product. I hope we’ll see more of this.

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