Callwave’s Vtxt Hits One Million Voicemail-to-Text Transcriptions

Two months after releasing a beta version of its Vtxt service, Callwave announced yesterday it had transcribed 1 million voicemail-to-text messages. The company, which develops technology linking phones and computers, currently offers the only voicemail-to-text service free of charge. In addition to text transcriptions of voicemail sent via SMS, Callwave also sends the transcribed message to an end-user’s e-mail address,and posts it to the user’s account on the company’s Web site.

Callwave staff scientist Anthony Bladon, PhD says hitting the 1 million mark yesterday gave the company reason to believe that the Vtxt service shows consumers’ shifting views ofvoicemail.

"What we’re so thrilled about is that we’ve done this so quickly," Bladon states. "I don’t think we all realize quite how antiquated voicemail has become. You have to do a lot going through prompts, and this is the ability to get the information with a different method."

The Vtxt program, however, is not a full transcription of the voicemail’s information. Rather, using the company’s "GIST" offering, message recipients receive summarized translations in one text message. Bladon explains that Callwave uses its own speech recognizer to tailor a message down to only the most pertinent information, including numbers or words indicating an emergency situation. This method, Bladon says, "tells them [end users] whether or not they need to respond immediately."

Perhaps as a response to the technology’s one-million landmark, Bladon says Callwave is in the process of tweaking Vtxt, with hopes of developing a paid service in the future. The free service, however, will remain available, he says, after beta, with a paid service coming at a "premium" level of service. If they do so, Callwave would join the ranks of other voicemail-to-text services, but wouldstill be separate from the current market offerings.

"They’re paid services because, in every case, they rely on human transcription," Bladon says. "Our service is different in that it’s fully automated, with no humans involved, making it fully private, so no one is listening to your voicemail."

Though the company acknowledges the Vtxt service isn’t completely accurate, Callwave stands poised to continue further product development.

"I think it’s not an exaggeration to say that this is a new class of speech recognition application– nobody has done this yet," Bladon states. "We’ve largely overcome the LVCSR error rate because we just give you the gist of the message. It’s a marriage of convenience to the user with state-of-the-art technology."

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