Ditech to Deliver Voice-Based Web Interaction during Mobile Calls

Mobile voice solutions provider Ditech Networks will soon launch mStage, a network-based platform for mobile carriers that allows subscribers to use their voices to interact with Web applications during phone calls, the company announced today.

“We definitely think we’re coming out with something that is going to be pretty unique in terms of capabilities,” says Mike Lambert, senior director of marketing at Ditech Networks, who notes that, to the best of his knowledge, there is nothing like mStage available today.

According to a statement from Ditech Networks, mStage will enable users to bypass keyboards, touch screens, and styluses to employ “the most intuitive access method available”—the human voice. Engaged during a call via a spoken command, mStage will connect callers with the Web and allow them to perform a variety of functions, including checking email, communicating with social networks, and researching local entertainment.

“In order to invoke the service, you say what we call a keyword—so something like ‘talktalk’—and then the system will acknowledge that you are there and then engage in a dialog with an interactive voice response (IVR) system that will run the applications that have been created for different types of Web applications and the interaction between them,” Lambert says. “So it’s really a two-stage process.” 

Lambert adds that many opportunities exist—both professional and social—to utilize mStage.

“In the unified communications domain there is the ability to work with calendars and schedules and emails—so on the productivity side you have those capabilities,” he says. “And then on the social networking side you have the ability to now use voice flexibly to interact with chat sessions, to dynamically send a poke message from Facebook to a user who’s on a phone.”

mStage is also being designed to enable subscribers to receive messages—an important reminder about a meeting, for example—during calls in the form of a “whisper” message. With the whisper function, the text of the meeting reminder will be converted to speech and sent to users.

According to Lambert, all of this will have significant benefits for users, particularly as more and more people move applications—like calendars and schedules—online.

“By putting a lot of your services in the cloud, you have an opportunity for increased accessibility,” he says. “And when you throw in things like BlackBerrys and iPhones to the mix…you have a real strong ability for people to use their data and their applications while they’re mobile.

“So a voice interface seemed like a natural for that for the consumer side,” he adds. “We don’t see voice replacing all modalities of use. But it becomes a necessary modality of use in certain situations…when you’re using a mobile phone. And that combined with the strong presence of your personal information on the Web creates a compelling interest in this capability.”

Additionally, via its open API, mStage will allow Web developers to integrate voice into applications built for the mStage platform, thus enabling mobile carriers to create additional demand, and increase revenue opportunities for mStage-enabled networks.

“By enabling outside companies or individuals to create applications that take advantage of this new flexibility in the media stream, and making that accessible to a large number of people, we feel that it can drive significant adoption,” Lambert says.

mStage is a media processing platform being designed for installation at either the core or edge of a network, based on traffic requirements. This will allow the service to be scalable, cost-effective, and available to every subscriber on any call.

Ditech Networks plans commercial availability of mStage in the third quarter of calendar year 2009 and will be demonstrating it at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February.

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