HomeTechnologyEntertainmentExploring with Ease: Audiobook Voice Assistant "Odyssey"

Exploring with Ease: Audiobook Voice Assistant “Odyssey”

In an interview for Tom Vanderbilt’s 2016 book, chief engineer Glenn McDonald, at Spotify, explained, “If all I knew about you was the last five books you read, I probably wouldn’t know much, but if I knew the last five songs you listened to on a streaming service, I’d probably know a lot about you.”

Taste, in general, could be affected by a lot of factors, such as socio-economic background, or upbringing. The shortest route that could be taken in identifying a person’s disposition is through music, which is not really impossible thanks to modern technology. Similarly, a person’s taste in music could tell their preference in books, like how someone who listens to anime soundtracks would lean more on fantasy genres, or specifically manga, while someone who listens to K-Pop, based on the number of works published on Archive of Our Own, might have a penchant for fanfiction.

Smarter recommendations for you with Odyssey

Last October 16, Bookwire GmbH, a German service provider for publisher distribution of eBooks and digital content, launched Odyssey, an algorithm-based, self-learning search, and recommendation software. This voice assistant allows users with smart speakers to find audiobooks in streaming sites efficiently.

“We see our voice assistant as a virtual adviser for users who are interested in audiobooks but don’t know exactly which title they would like to listen to next. Until now, the design of streaming portals hasn’t made it easy to search for audiobooks, and listeners quickly get lost in the baffling range. This is precisely where the technology of Odyssey comes in.” John Ruhrmann, Bookwire’s managing director stated.

Odyssey Version 1.0 currently has over a thousand German-language audiobooks which will be taken from Bookwire publishing clients. Over the next few months, the library will be globalized, with the addition of international titles. Users can even choose to use Odyssey through their Amazon Alexa smart speaker endpoints as Alexa Skill to get recommendations. When the service is introduced outside of Germany has not yet been disclosed.

How does it work?

The software works by connecting to the user’s streaming data, for instance, from Spotify or Alexa, with permission from the owner, and analyzes their listening preferences. The customer can then choose to either use the voice assistant to instantly look up titles within a specific range, or get suggestions via dialogue. The preferences are verified with around four questions. Afterward, the audiobook suggestions will be provided, and the users can decide whether to listen to a sample or the full audiobook immediately.

By creating special metadata required for optimum discoverability, and utilizing the fast-growing smart speaker market, Bookwire has allowed audiobook publishers to experience their much-awaited break in the industry. The software was launched last 2019 and will be distributed for other providers this year.

Photo credit: The feature image has been done by Andres Urena.

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Elaine Espiritu
A mass comm + business ad student, former biochem.