X-Ray Prototype

I have a link to the prototype linked to my dropbox below. You need flash installed in your browser for it to work. The audio is from Game of thrones.

A couple of notes on the prototype. 

  • You can scrub the audio using the right rail. 
  • The play/pause button works, but the prototype will not scrub while paused. 
  • Tap on any instance of Tyrion Lanister to see the extra information embedded in the stream (actually tap on anything to see Tyrion's info - it is a prototype after all) 

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/125367/xrayforAudiobooks/index.html

Concept

 X-Ray for Audiobooks is a feature concept I've been developing for a couple of years at Audible.  

For those who don't know, X-ray is a feature found on some Kindle e-books, and in Amazon streaming videos where meta-data about the content is shown in context.  

In the e-book version of the feature, character descriptions, key quotes and other contextually-relevant information is displayed in a special mode. This is a extremely useful (albeit completely hidden) feature if you need to refer to additional information on a character or idea mentioned in the book.

In X-Ray for video, information on actors is displayed (which is pulled from Amazon subsidiary IMDB). It helps to answer that nagging "where have I seen that guy before?" question which inevitably pops up while watching a movie. It makes for a richer, more informative experience. 

The concept behind X-ray for Audiobooks is to solve one of the major short comings of listening to books (as opposed to reading them). Unlike text, its difficult to locate and contextualize a character, quote or significant concept in the flow of an Audiobook, all you have to work with is timecode. This is particularly troublesome with books (such as those in the Game of Thrones series) where there are dozens of interrelated characters and wide variety of changing contexts and factions.  Many listeners need to resort to Google to keep all the information straight.  

X-Ray for Audiobooks helps contextualize that information by sharing the same X-Ray data found in the e-book, but embedding it in a mode that displays the information inline with the audio.   

I based the visual metaphor for this mode on the concept of a river or stream, where the audio playhead is a bridge that sits on top, while x-ray content flows on the stream. The concepts and the audio are synchronized allowing the user to "scrub" the audio. This helps the user visualize what is happening in the audio, and to easily locate key concepts. I also included other important meta data events such as chapter breaks, bookmarks, notes, and Kindle social highlights (popularly highlighted passages within the book). 

In addition to the concept mockups, I worked Colin Ochel, a talented prototyper who was working for me at the time to develop a Flash prototype that illustrates the idea.  All of the work is conceptual to date, VERY doable from a technology/data perspective. I've been successful at socializing the idea at Audible and Amazon, and hope to see some version of it shipping in a product soon.