By Noah Miller, Tech Times, 09 May 2023
Manna Justin while driving to work in the morning might listen to soft rock. To unwind during lunch, he might listen to a bit of comedy.
On the drive home from work, it’s time for some classical music. “Everyone has their own different patterns of listening,” he said.
And this is what drives the latest phase of development at Tonto, the short form audio platform and app that Manna founded.
Tonto lets users post audio, and post comments on that audio. That audio can feature everything from amusing soundbites created by friends and strangers to new music clips; news reports from established journalists in the field; and random audio missives. Tonto can also be used as a quick communication tool, thanks to voice notes.
Now, Manna, the Tonto CEO, is harnessing the power of AI to tailor content to individual users’ listening tastes.
“We’re not going in with the AI for generating content,” he said. “That’s not our interest right now. The first step is to use AI to supercharge our algorithms-so we can refine it on the fly, so it keeps learning about every user’s preferences and patterns of listening.
“At the end of the day, everybody has some kind of an algorithm that identifies what people enjoy listening to or viewing, whether it’s TikTok or Instagram or whatever. But we are a lot more advanced in terms of using AI. For example, what is the mood of the content that people are listening to, rather than just, who or what are they listening to?
“Is it somber music? Is it exciting? Is it comedy? Which language is it in? Are there any other bearings to real time events that will influence the listening patterns? That’s where we’re going with AI.”
At the heart of Tonto’s AI-supercharged algorithm initiative is the data that the startup has compiled on its users, which sketches out profiles of who listens to what and for how long.
If a user dials up a clip that is two-minutes long but consistently stops listening after 30-seconds, their profile reflects all of this. Or, if the user only listens to certain types of short-form audio, that is added to the profile. This is what Tonto is supercharging with AI.
At the same time, Tonto keeps sending audio clips your way, one after another, as determined by your profile. So in addition to making your own selections, you can consider Tonto’s suggestions. Overall, this benefits Tonto’s users and creators.
“The algorithm is curating what you want to listen to, and delivering it to you through the app,” Manna said. “Over time, as more and more data is compiled, the AI becomes more and more supercharged, and the algorithm curating what you’re listening to becomes more refined.”
Looking ahead, Manna and the Tonto team are crafting a strategy that will allow audio creators to monetize their content. Combined with targeted ads that feed off a user’s interests and the content they are listening to-sports cars and rock music anyone?-Tonto is ramping up its ability to generate remuneration.
“All of this continues to build a base that allows our user experience to get better,” Manna said.
Managed by teams of young entrepreneurs across three continents, Tonto’s origins date back to the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic. Manna fell ill and during his long recovery listened to a great deal of comedy and music from a range of platforms.
“That’s when the idea of Tonto came about,” Manna said.
He added, “The launch was personal.”