Tellme is a subsidiary of Microsoft that focuses on voice technologies. Today it has announced three new cloud-based services for enterprise customers – a VoIP carrier service, advanced speech recognition and a new “voice font” that does automatic text-to-speech, but still sounds natural. The speech recognition service is also being used for a new voice-to-text mobile application that Microsoft is releasing for Windows Mobile 6.5
By using VoIP instead of regular network routes to handle customer service-related calls for Fortune 1000 companies, Tellme claims it can knock the costs of these calls down by 60% It also claims it can cut down on the amount of time used per call – Tellme has worked closely with Microsoft’s speech team. Using a huge number of recorded calls, Tellme says it can now adapt it’s speech services to a users voice within three seconds. Since users don’t have to repeat themselves constantly, this would save a huge amount of time per call. Finally, it’s new text-to-speech (TTS) engine is called Zira – which has been designed to use popular phrases and words to sound more natural. It’s an automatic service, so no pre-recordings have to be done.
The Tellme app is a simple but useful beast. It uses the same voice recognition tech as above to translate what you say into an SMS or mobile search term. It will be integrated at a network level, and will be available with Windows Mobile 6.5 later this year. One big problem is that it only searches on Windows Live Search.
The text function is very cool, though.
From the release:
“Our goal is to give enterprises technology that improves the customer experience but also affords them the ultimate financial flexibility when deploying voice services,” said Jamie Bertasi, senior director of Business Solutions at Tellme. “From initial deployments we’re seeing impressive cost savings and results that we’re sure our customers will be excited about.”
“Providing quality customer service is a top priority for E*TRADE. Tellme’s flexible platform has helped us unify our customer service experience across multiple channels and deliver improved performance year over year,” said Hartley Caldwell, senior vice president, Software Engineering at E*TRADE Financial Corp.
What we think?
I was wondering when Microsoft would start releasing more mobile voice services. The basic voice functions for mobile devices have been seeing a massive upgrade as developers concentrate on the fancier moves allowed by digitizing voice data through VoIP. Although while mostly everyone else seems to be releasing Visual Voice Mail services, it’s good to see Microsoft doing something a bit different with the voice-to-text SMS service. We’ll have to wait until 6.5 is released before we can see how good it actually is, but if the voice recognition really is as hot as it say it is than Microsoft really should think about letting Tellme search across multiple engines, not just Live.