Asterisk-based FreePBX clones Microsoft Response Point's Easy Button

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Asterisk-based FreePBX clones Microsoft Response Point's Easy Button

In November of 2007, I reviewed the Microsoft Response Point IP-PBX. One of the Response Point's main features is the "Easy button" that you can press and then speak commands to the RP system, such as "transfer to Tom Keating" or "call Bill Gates".

Well yesterday, I received a news tip about an Asterisk solution that duplicates this "Easy button" speech-rec functionality. The blog explains:

... I saw a video on the Response Point "magic button." A voice recognition button for a PBX? It appeared that Microsoft really did something here.

I wondered to myself if Asterisk could do it. A while back I utilized the LumenVox speech recognition software for Linux/Asterisk to build a speech enabled company directory for Asterisk. That was pretty cool, but a magic button would be a Killer App.

FreePBX logo So Ethan Schroeder, an Asterisk fan, set on a course to make a magic/easy button for FreePBX, an Asterisk-based solution.

He writes:

From the start of a dream to actual implementation was quite an experience. Creating a button that works when you are not in a call for some functionality (call initiation) and works while you are IN a call for call control turned out to be a difficult task, but I managed to make it work.

The result is a magic button that when pushed plays a fun tone and let's me speak to my phone system in wondrous ways:
  • "call John Smith" or "dial John Smith" - dials by name (John Smith, John) or extension number (Four-thousand-one/4-zero-zero-1/4'oo'1), or even speak the digits of a 7, 10, or 11 digit phone number.
  • "Transfer to John Smith" - transfers a call to a name or extension.
  • "Transfer to John Smith's Voicemail" or "Transfer voicemail John Smith" - transfers the call directly into John Smith's voicemail.
  • "Park call" or "Park caller", parks the call and announces the parking slot.
  • "Retrieve calls" - queries asterisk for all the parked calls and gives the user their options using the Flite text-to-speech engine (which I'll soon be switching over to the incredibly cool Cepstral engine with their new "Asterisk Allison" voice).
  • "Retrieve call [parking slot]"- Retrieves a specific parked call.
  • Needless to say, that’s only the beginning!
So you're probably wondering how you get your hands on this great application? Well, I have good news for ya. Ethan is giving it away to all participants of the FreePBX training taking place in South Carolina in a few weeks, as seen here:

Want to see this in action, and even take home the technology? I'm demonstrating it all to participants of the FreePBX training when I present in South Carolina February 27-29th, 2008. I'll also be giving away all the parts to make the magic button work, the AGI, LumenVox configs, Asterisk dial plans and an Asterisk 1.2.x patch required for the parking feature, back ported from 1.4. All you need is a LumenVox starter kit and it looks like you’ll get that too.

I didn't know FreePBX was offering training courses, so this is news to me. I wish them well and hope it is as successful as the FtOCC (Fonality trixbox Open Communication Certification) Training at ITEXPO that was just held last week. 52 people were in the trixbox training class -- all with laptops learning how to setup & configure the Asterisk-based trixbox IP-PBX. I should ping FreePBX and see if they want to co-locate their training at ITEXPO since we draw a lot of Asterisk enthusiasts to our show. AFAIK, it doesn't cost them anything either, so it's a win-win.

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