New Service Makes Voicemail Readable

Santa Barbara's CallWave Touts Application's Uniqueness

The Santa Barbara-based “voice application” company CallWave launched a new service today that allows users to have voicemail messages neatly synopsized to 150 words and sent either to their email, or back to their phones as text messages. Targeting those too bombarded by phone calls to respond to every voicemail message, the company is offering a free trial period during which potential clients can figure out whether such a service will make business and personal interactions a little bit easier.

An example of the Vtext "PhonePage" database.

The Vtext service, which CallWave first unveiled at the CTIA Wireless Association show back in March, intercepts voicemail messages and filters them through software designed to pick out “the gist” at the expense of apparently expendable word chunks like greetings and the stammering and pauses that mark so much human interaction. Depending on the user’s preference, that gist then gets sent as a test message or as an email that also includes a wav file of the original message that one can listen to while sitting at the computer. CallWave is betting that some will prefer being able to filter out what’s less important. “As we get busier and busier, mobile consumers find it less convenient to answer every voicemail and scroll though their handset,” said Kelly Delany, CallWave’s vice president of corporate marketing. “Most people are not leaving messages. They’d rather just text somebody.”

Currently, existing services like SpinVox and SimulScribe offer a full transcription service of voicemail messages, but, Delany claims Vtext is unique in its ability to extract the core information of a message, noting that the heuristic technology Vtext employs to shorten messages was designed so that the resulting synopsis would fit in a single text message or email subject line, as beta testing proved that users would rather not receive word-for-word transcriptions that span multiple consecutive text messages. “A 90-second voicemail message would equate to four or five SMS messages,” Delany said.

Furthermore, all messages will also be archived in a searchable online database – the PhonePage – that would allow them to recall previously received synopses and the corresponding sound clips.

The service can also be personalized. Users can choose to omit the first five seconds of a voicemail message – usually the greeting and introduction to the actual information – or even delete obscenities if they’d rather not have them show up on their work email accounts. While Delany didn’t say the service would necessarily appeal to everyone, CallWave is banking on one group in particular: “The people who are on their mobile phone a lot and spend a lot of time in front of their computer.”

The company was launched in 1998 around the Internet Answering Machine, which allowed an earlier generation of web surfers to manage phone calls while using a dial-up connection. Delany boasts CallWave’s “rich history in understanding what people need to communicate through technology.”

To test out Vtext, check out CallWave’s website.


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