MagneticTime, an Irish audio company focused on user mobility, recently launched MT1, a software product that translates e-mails and Microsoft Word documents to audio files, for on-the-go access.
"I find business reading quite boring and when you have a large amount of e-mails coming in every day it can get a bit bewildering," said Richard O'Donnell, CEO for MagneticTime. "I was sitting on the plane trying to figure out how to use my iPod for access and that's when I came up with the idea for MT1."
MagneticTime is marketing its MT1 product as a tool for personal or business use. Commuters can use the technology to access voice mail while en route.
In terms of consumer-level application, the company encourages customers to create portable "audioized" e-mail libraries, or to use MT1 for storing and backing up personal documents.
"There [are] implications for corporate communications, training and education," O'Donnell said in a prepared statement.
"Several universities in the U.S. are looking at using the iPod as a means to distribute course content to students, such as for the records of lectures. The MT1 series takes that approach a step further by allowing any Word-based course content to also be converted to voice."
MT1, which is compatible with Apple iPods, cell phones, PDAs and PCs, automatically translates Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express e-mails — along with attached Word documents — to MP3 format.
MT1 technology lets users pause, play, stop, skip and store files to playlists.
The MagneticTime software works by first creating a folder to copy all incoming e-mails. Each time a new message arrives in the users in box, MT1 automatically stores and translates the document from text to voice.
MagneticTime says its files, which take up significantly less storage space than traditional MP3s, can be stored for use now or in the future. In addition, MT1 offers extensive storage capacity by utilizing algorithms that ensure files take up as little space as possible.
"It's similar to zipping a file," said O'Donnell. "What we do is compress the regular MP3 format further, and because it's voice, we can save and produce it at a lower bit rate than CD quality."
MT1 features text-to-speech technology from Acapela Group for translation.
Acapela is capable of reading proper names, numbers and currencies. The software currently offers English capabilities only; however, MagneticTime has plans to upgrade its product, according to officials.
MagneticTime's updated MT2 product will feature several more languages including French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Belgian and Swedish.
The company expects to launch a German version by Q1 2006, and will make available all additional languages by the end of next year.
"We're also working on MTPodcasts, which we expect to launch in Q1 of 2006 as well," said O'Donnell. "Essentially, it will remove the need for a human voice in the podcast sequence."
Microsoft Windows users can now download MagneticTime's MT1 software through the company Web site, where it retails for $39.99.
MagneticTime will also offer a Mac version in early 2006.