Voicemail Moves to Text
Everyone knows that traditional voicemail requires users to listen to their messages, but emerging technologies are making it possible for users to read their voice messages as well. Just this week, three companies unveiled services based on voicemail transcription technologies: CallWave, M5 Networks, and FreedomVOICE Systems.
CallWave introduced Vtxt, a service that makes voicemail readable, searchable, and storable. The service uses CallWave's proprietary speech recognition and Web 2.0 voicemail technology to enable subscribers to read information from their voicemails such as caller ID, name, city and state, and subject and timing of the call. This information is delivered as text to the handset by CallWave's GIST (General Information on the Subject and Timing) technology using speech-to-text. The full message can be accessed via voicemail, email, or on the user's personal Web page archive. "It truly is linked to having gists, complete voicemails, and complete SMS capabilities accessible to the mobile consumer whenever and wherever they want it," says Kelly Delany, vice president of marketing at CallWave. "We call it a new class of business-class voicemail."
"The transcription of conversational voice messages is a tremendous challenge for speech recognition; therefore, extracting the gist of the message is a benefit for today's technology. It is less demanding on the speech recognizer; there are products or research labs with the kinds of recognizer engines that are useful for this" explains Antony Bladon, a staff scientist at CallWave. "It is a benefit to the technology and it is also a benefit to the user experience."
M5 Networks and FreedomVOICE released products based on voice recognition software and algorithms developed by SimulScribe. M5 Networks partnered with SimulScribe to enable clients to receive up to one minute of a voicemail message as text in an email that can be read on a desktop or mobile device. Clients also receive the original audio file as an attachment in the email. M5 is offering this as part of its voice solution. "There are more and more features coming out with software, especially with IP software. People don't know how to set them up or take advantage of them. A company like M5 can put together solutions that have multiple features for a particular user group in an organization," states Jeff Silbert, vice president of marketing at M5 Networks. "It doesn't make sense to get these solutions in a premises-based model anymore."
FreedomVOICE is also using SimulScribe's technology in its TalkText service. The service converts the entire voicemail message to email. TalkText is an add-on to FreedomVOICE's virtual office tools, which deliver fax, voice, and email to designated Internet locations. "Now you have a choice in terms of how you deal with voice messages. The email delivery was one step in gaining efficiency in terms of the unified communications concept and this is the next step, so now you can scan through messages much faster," says Eric Thomas, founder and CEO of FreedomVOICE. "It gives you a lot more efficiency and it is one of those things that is revolutionary in terms of how you do business."
"There is a concerted movement in the market towards unified communications," said Daniel Hong, lead analyst at Datamonitor. "Speech recognition and text-to-speech technologies will play an integral role as a new interface in this new emerging area."