Automated Read Aloud Implementation via SMIL

Arvinder Sharma January 29, 2019
Almost everyone can remember the cozy feeling of being read to, either by parents, babysitters, or teachers. Listening to a book was often what initiated the love of reading. Teachers reading aloud have been part of educational systems for multiple generations. The benefits and effectiveness of reading aloud have been studied for decades and researchers have repeatedly concluded that it is a vital part of children’s’ education. Multiple studies have demonstrated that reading aloud helps students:  
  • Develop background knowledge on a topic
  • Develop and expand vocabulary
  • Make accurate inferences and predictions
  • Ask higher order questions
  • Connect with additional materials
However, experts have found out something else about reading aloud to students: it works even better when children are not just listening, but participating in the process. When they get involved on deeper levels, they actually interact with the books and develop active listening skills. Teachers know that those skills are often the keys to academic success.


The ability for young children to interact with what they are reading has been greatly enhanced by the development of SMIL (pronounced “smile”). SMIL stands for Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language and it has taken eBooks to a completely new level–one that is impacting children’s education in multiple ways. eBooks have revolutionized education at all levels. Publishers are able to share content faster and easier and offer better pricing opportunities. For teachers and readers, this often results in lower prices, increased accessibility, and simple usage for them and more interactive learning experiences for their students. SMIL is a coding language that is easy to learn and understand, similar to HTML.  It was first developed in 1997 and has been updated three times between 1999 and 2008. It is an open file format, with external media files, making it easier to collaborate with others and make edits. SMIL is able to synchronize video, audio, and images, making reading a multi-sensory experience for students. Today, many educators have the option of using this form of automated reading aloud implementation to provide these read-aloud experiences. These programs offer the ability to highlight vocabulary words, add notes, search for phrases and start or stop the reading as needed. This makes it possible for students to read and learn at their own pace. SMIL also has the potential for offering the soundtrack in multiple languages.   SMIL means Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language. It is an XML language that allows timing, layout, animations, transitions and other things to be scripted and executed by software or reading device that understands SMIL XML. Magic Edtech has developed a process to extract text from PDF, generate audio to create read aloud ePUB3 through an automated process. Generated audio synchronize with word/sentence & paragraph level in HTML through automated SMIL.

SMIL file:

SMIL means Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language     Synchronizing an SMIL File and Audio File in manifest in OPF of an EPUB.       Let us know if you have a similar business requirement and we would love get into a conversation with you to explain why you should partner with Magic EdTech!        

Arvinder Sharma

Arvinder is a solution architect with more than 15 years of experience in building/designing processes and develop solutions by using wide range of cutting edge technologies for end to end digital publishing.