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Avaya Shows Speech-to-Text and More
When the folks in the Avaya booth let me try out their new speech-to-text messaging system by calling in my own message, I tried to be as obnoxious as I could."Um...um...um...um..." I began. I threw in some "yeah's" and tried to mumble and to let as much of the (thankfully!) boisterous show-floor roar spill in as well. And of course I used my cell phone.
When the system finished processing the speech and forwarded an email to the demo pod with a WAV file attached to the text, it read as follows: "Yeah, hello, this is Eric Kraft calling from No Jitter dot com leaving a message. Thank you." Darn near perfect. I've had human beings mangle my name worse. Much worse.
The rap on speech to text always was a poor record of accuracy, but it looks like that's becoming a non-issue--assuming my demo was typical of what you'll actually get. The Avaya system connects the vendor's Modular Messaging with a voice mail gateway from Mutare Software and speech to text messaging service from SpinVox; both are Avaya DevConnect partners.
The target market for this feature, according to Diane Sharif of Avaya, is the highly mobile professional who may need to retrieve voice messages in any type of environment, including one where surrounding noise makes listening to the playback difficult or irksome. It can also help make the mobile worker be more efficient by allowing him or her to screen voice mails even more efficiently than can be done with simple unified messaging; in the latter case, you can prioritize your messages by seeing sender and subject, but speech-to-text takes you the extra mile and lets you skim the actual content of the message, and lets you reply back via email if that's better than a voice callback.
This is clearly not something you're going to give to every worker, but sales forces and others who are both constantly mobile and time-constrained may choose to take a look. Diane Sharif said the cost, between the Mutare server, SpinVox gateway, and per-user service, amortizes out to about $88 per user per year.
In my cruise around the Avaya booth, I also got a look at some of the elements of the new Unified Communications All Inclusive offering, which Allan Sulkin wrote about last week. One notable thing was that the Avaya folks demoed the vendor's One X Portal client, a real-time communications portal that has lots of features and functions around conferencing, as well as presence. Interestingly, the demo scenario had One X Portal connecting to Microsoft Office Communicator client for instant messaging. Which begged the question: Why have both portals? Especially since earlier in the day, Microsoft had taken time in its keynote address to demo its own conferencing features/functions of Office Communications Server Release 2?
I asked Diane Sharif about this and she replied, "You mean the one [OCS R2] that's coming out in February?"
"They were talking about things we're doing," she elaborated.