Every year when I go to the Consumer Electronics Show (which the sponsors call the International CES), I try to spend some time in the back halls, and the exhibits off the convention floor where you can often find the startup companies that may become future stars. One such company is CharmTech Labs, a software company founded by computing professors at Stony Brook University on New York’s Long Island. CharmTech has created Capti Narrator, a very clever free iPhone app that will allow you to capture text from a wide variety of sources and have it read back to you as speech. It can capture text from webpages, Google Drive, Dropbox, and other sources. Then you can have the text read back to you or you can put it into a playlist for later playback. In theory, the application will let you take an e-book and convert it into an audio book. The only drawback I could find is that the app does not allow you to highlight and select a portion of a document. You get the complete document or webpage from beginning to end.
We installed in on the iPhone and found it very intuitive. For those of us challenged by small print on a smartphone, this is a convenient way of capturing information and having it read back at a time and place of your choosing.
While Capti Narrator is free, CharmTech makes its money by selling you voices to read back the text. Their included voice is decent, but not great. Generally, the more expensive the voice, the more lifelike the narration. They generally range in price from about $2.00 to $6.00.
CharmTech is also developing browser based versions of the Capti Narrator app for both Windows and Mac, but as of now it only works on the Firefox browser. in short, this is a really useful app that could help out boomers, seniors, and the rest of us who either have trouble reading text on a smartphone, or simply would prefer to have the text read back to us when we’re in a car, on a train, or doing something else.