In an age of video, photos and the Internet, we sometimes forget that humans spend around 70% of their waking hours speaking and listening, according to the International Listening Association. That’s the basis of HearPlanet’s mobile streaming audio service, the largest talking tour audio guide in the world with 2.7 million points of information available for downloading.
HearPlanet turns your cell phone into a live Internet streaming guide to the world using text-to-speech technology and digital voice recordings. offer information on millions of destinations that “brings the world to your ears.” Essentially it’s a streaming mp3 player without the music.
With over 500,000 downloads, the company’s iPhone app is a top travel tool in Apple’s iTunes App Store.
HearPlanet is designed to accommodate media of all types on locations and exhibits anywhere in the world. Audio is currently delivered instantly to iPhone users. As the company expands, HearPlanet will target other personal mobile devices– additional smart phones, navigation devices, tablet computers and netbooks that enhance sightseeing, museum and landmark visits.
Apple featured HearPlanet and its mobile streaming audio in iPhone ads and full-page spreads published in USA Today, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Founder and CEO of HearPlanet, Steve is not only an entrepreneur. He’s also an Internet developer, media producer and marketing professional.
Previously, he founded Passinglane, a media production and Internet development company. Clients included AIG, Motorola, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Microsoft, Grey Advertising, K-Swiss, Disney, AOL and others. Prior to Passinglane, he produced interactive media broadcasts at Grey Advertising.
Echtman is also a Board member of Challenge Day, a non-profit youth violence prevention program that has been featured on Oprah and will be the centerpiece of an upcoming series on MTV.
Steven Echtman HearPlanet Podcast
In this podcast interview with Brian Prows, HearPlanet’s founder discusses his vision of connecting content providers with listeners who want mobile streaming audio on the go. Steven also discusses why leadership in a start-up environment is critical to bringing people together by sharing the vision and inspiring employees.
HearPlanet launched using content from Wikipedia, a novel text-to-speech process and the iPhone. During the interview, Steve reveals his dream of encouraging other developers to use HearPlanet’s API to design new services for other mobile devices, such as smart phones, netbooks and tablet computers. The company is also seeking additional content partners who need distribution channels for their text, audio or multimedia products.
He also talks about how HearPlanet’s mobile streaming audio service delivers many “points of view” about “points of interest,” alerting listeners to historical and travel site information. Listeners choose may listen from 30 seconds to 20 minutes. Surrounding POI content is sorted by popularity and distance, but app users are free to explore additional information that interests them.
While some might argue that HearPlanet replaces travel books and guides , the company is using the mobile channel to deliver on-demand information in a “non-linear” way. Unlike a guided tour, listeners may choose content in any order from any place. This enables anyone connected to the service to learn about historical landmarks, cities, bridges, memorials and other sites.
To monetize the business, HearPlanet intends to include audio mobile banner ads in the future, which will display products and services relevant to the content.
The future? Voice recognition and text-to-speech technologies will change the way people communicate with their mobile phones and other mobile devices, making it easier for people to enter and retrieve information in all formats.
Listen as to a world full of mobile streaming audio.