Tech company toiling on talking paper for many uses
A Kailua startup is working to make pieces of sticky paper talk. Really.
Labels that Talk is the latest company put together by Ken Berkun, a longtime technology industry executive and a founder of technology company Springfish.
He has kids, takes their pictures and has "lousy handwriting," for labeling them, he laughed.
"There's gotta be a better way" to label snapshots, he thought. Like maybe, "speak them, print them out and stick them in a photo album."
Scrapbookers could put talking labels on photo pages that could capture a kid's voice at various ages or a kupuna's voice, to treasure forever.
Elderly or infirm parents could hear their pill bottles remind them about dosages.
A concert poster or other printed ad could play an audio clip, as could a greeting card -- with your voice on it.
Obviously, it would work for any language. "You record in Spanish, it plays back in Spanish. I don't know how it knows," Berkun chuckled.
The technology could be used in books for children, or English as a Second Language instruction, or industrial training applications.
You could hear, not just read, your columnist's punchlines on the printed page. It's not something Berkun mentioned, TheBuzz is just dreaming.
Berkun has been working on Labels that Talk for a little more than two years and has been welcomed by Hawaii's technology community, especially at University of Hawaii.
At present, the talking labels are "two-dimensional, very high-density bar codes."
They are about a half-inch wide and six inches long and hold 10 seconds of audio.
By the time it goes to market, maybe Christmas of 2009, he'd like them to hold twice as much audio, or be three inches long.
Labels that Talk is a software company that has no intention of becoming a manufacturer, Berkun said.
It will license the software to companies to make the recorders and scanners to play back the audio.
The recorders could cost about $150 while scanners would be cheaper.
Other companies could embed software in other devices for use as scanners -- such as camera phones.
Photo kiosks are a natural fit for the technology, but way deep down he wants one scanner model to be a "secret decoder ring," he laughed heartily.
Betcha lots of boomers would order one to scan the label on their box of high-fiber, heart-healthy cereal, to see if they won a prize.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com