There is a wealth of information on the internet. It’s possible to learn just about anything these days as long as you have a connected device. However, the vast quantity of data on the web that can be uncovered by search engines like Google isn’t everything that’s out there.
Since podcasts have skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years, there is now tons of information stored in audio format. While podcasts offer a terrific way for people to learn more about the things they love, they’re also difficult (nearly impossible) to search.
Drowning in Sound
According to data from Podcast Insights, there are currently more than 1.7 million podcasts in existence. They’ve churned out more than 43 million episodes that are now circulating on the internet. At first glance, this seems like a good problem to have. For listeners, there is no shortage of podcasts to enjoy.
The problem is being able to find them. Podz’s chief technology officer, Seye Ojumu, told Digital Trends, “We like to say that we’re living in the golden age of audio. But some of the tools that we have for finding things [to listen to] still feel like the Stone Age.”
Indeed, it is extremely challenging to find new podcasts to listen to. It is harder still to try and search for something within those audio episodes.
In the old days of podcasting (in other words, a few years ago), most people discovered new shows thanks to a recommendation from a friend or colleague. While that is still one way to find new podcasts, it certainly isn’t scalable enough to work with the millions of shows available today.
That’s where Podz comes in. The startup has built an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that crawls through the 5,000 most-popular podcasts in the world. It then identifies 60-second samples from the show and displays them for users in an audio-based feed like TikTok.
The best part is that Podz’s algorithm gets better over time. As it learns a user’s preferences, it is able to make better recommendations. The algorithm factors in things like what the show is about, what category it fits into, and who’s hosting it.
Ojumu tells Digital Trends, “With those pieces of information, you now have a way to navigate from one piece of content, from one short-form audio to another short-form audio.”
For now, Podz is focused on making podcasts more accessible. However, the startup has a larger vision that involves all the audio on the web. Podz wants to make it as easy for users to search audio as they can text. In a sense, it wants to become the Google of audio.
Although the startup isn’t the first to have this vision, it’s something that feels inevitable. As AI continues to get smarter, searching audio clips for relevant information becomes more viable—and more important.
“We could [theoretically] index everything said that was recorded by anybody, anywhere,” Ojumu says.
Indeed, the potential is massive. Whether or not Podz can get there remains to be seen. In the meantime, its tools for podcast listeners are a welcome way to discover new shows.