Voicemail Transcription Patent

I Get by with a Little Help from my Friends
Here is a patent on voicemail transcription from one of the founders of SpinVox who I met with some months back. The patent does describe having live operators listen to and correct voicemails which are transcribed to text. This does not mean all voicemails are sent to live operators but one of my readers sent me this link and it is worth sharing. The text of the patent is below.
Voicemail is received at a voicemail server and converted to an audio file format; it is then sent or streamed over a wide area network to a voice to text transcription system comprising a network of computers. One of the networked computers plays back the voice message to an operator and the operator intelligently transcribes the actual message from the original voice message by entering the corresponding text message (actually a succinct version of the original voice message, not a verbose word-for-word conversion) into the computer to generate a transcribed text message. The transcribed text message is then sent to the wireless information device from the computer. Because human operators are used instead of machine transcription, voicemails are converted accurately, intelligently, appropriately and succinctly into text messages (SMS/MMS).
It is worth pointing out that in the case of SpinVox the e-mail matches the voicemail perfectly (well this is what is attempted anyway.) So this patent does not necessarily apply to the service I have tested or even the service which is being sold to the public.
Nonetheless, I have received countless e-mails and calls from analysts who swear the technology is beyond what speech recognition has been able to achieve to date.
I have spoken to the founders of SpinVox and SimulScribe and they tell me their technology is as safe as e-mail which can be intercepted and read. They have a point. The concern some people have is that operators reading your voicemail could theoretically steal personal information, etc.
I will keep you posted as the story unfolds.

  • Landon McDowell
    July 21, 2007 at 8:43 am

    I have to take issue with the statement that SpinVox is “as safe as email”. A third party having the ability to read an email or to listen to a phone call is hardly the same as a third party necessarily reading or hearing them. This is the equivalent of saying Russian Roulette with if a fully loaded gun is just as safe as playing with a single bullet in a million chamber revolver.
    I understand that the may not be using the “technology” outlined in the patent.
    The moral of the story is if you care about privacy encrypt your email and don’t use a SpinVox service.

  • Rich Tehrani
    July 22, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    Stay tuned. I have some new info I hope to blog this weekend about SpinVox and privacy.

  • Marvin
    October 17, 2007 at 9:01 am

    As an ex-SpinVox employee I can confirm that ALL intelligible voicemail messages (i.e. not white noise or slam downs) are sent to an Operator (People in Ireland, Barbados etc.) to be manually transcribed. Yes thats right – someone actually phyically listens to your message, removes any ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ and types it to be sent to you as a text message.
    Now whilst some people wouldnt have an issue with this – there are others that do. The reason is two fold:
    Firstly SpinVox are not honest in the way that they position their service to consumers – the website reads:
    At the heart of VMCS is an automated process that combines state-of-the-art techniques – including artificial intelligence, voice recognition and natural linguistics – with the ability to learn from human beings, all whilst maintaining the highest standards of security and privacy.
    This is pure baloney – the voice recognition is element is completely human! The only automation is to do with the trafficking of the original voicemail message to the Human Operator and the ejector back out of the SpinVox system for onward delivery as an SMS.
    Secondly, and on a more personal tack, I dont want someone else listening to my personal messages. They are personal and meant for only me.
    SpinVox would do themselves a great favour if they were to be honest and try to maintain a modicum of integrity – its is a great idea that Christina and Daniel had however the layers of deception need to be removed.

  • Sean
    August 29, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    Desk Scribers Data Scribe-is a newly formed company based in Cape Town, South Africa.
    The principal members of the company are Sean Goslett and Stephen Macaulay.
    We have extensive expertise in Voice-to-Text messaging service, based on our previous call center experience. The company was formed after identifying a gap in the market where this type of service is not catered for.
    Our core aims & objectives are to provide a call center messaging service 24 hours 7 days a week.
    We aim to be the best service provider with the highest standards of accuracy, professionalism and on-line availability.
    Our vision is to grow our company within Southern Africa, this type of service is an ‘un-tapped’ market which can be regarded as a unique concept in this region. Our company could well be the launching pad for the best voice-to-text transcribers with first world class standards. Kindly contact us if you have any voice-to-text projects you might want to contract out.
    Sean Goslett
    Tel : +27 (0) 21 5525693
    Fax : +27 (0) 86 6580439
    Cell :+27 (0) 731368518

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