When I first came across a company called SpinVox I thought it had a niche product not really aligned with my core readership. The first product the company introduced to me was SpinmyBlog which is something I could definitely use at my blog at Tehrani.com. But I thought – who else would even care?
Oh, wait a minute – I am sorry… I didn’t even tell you what SpinmyBlog does. Amazingly it uses speech recognition to convert your voice to a blog entry. The service works with numerous blog interfaces and allows you to utter your thoughts and have them instantaneously shared with the world.
But other than fellow bloggers why would this service be of any interest to anyone I continued to think.
Still, I decided to meet with the company as they seemed to be doing something different and interesting. At least – I could use the service myself. When I got to speak with the company’s VP of Strategy & Development Daniel Doulton, I could see him brimming with enthusiasm. Dan went on to detail all his company can do.
He explained SpinVox was founded in 2003 in fact and started by converting voicemail into text. Their service even works with Skype I was told. You can also connect your cell phone to the company’s voicemail translation service.
In the UK the company has 150 thousand users and they believe they have perfected their service and it is subsequently ready for the US market. I asked how they compare to PC-based systems and he told me they do much better at speaker independent speech recognition than these other speech rec solutions.
So with such a great lead-in I had to try the company’s technology for myself. The question was, which service did I want? There is the blog service I discussed above and a SpinmyMemo service which converts 15-30 seconds of speech into a text file which is e-mailed to you. There is also SpinmyBroadcast allowing you to speak and have your comments converted and e-mailed to a predefined list.
There is also SpinmyVmail which intercepts your voicemails and saves them on the company’s voicemail system instead. It then converts these voicemails to text and e-mails them to you.
I ended up reluctantly trying SpinmyVmail as I wasn’t sure I wanted my voicemails going to another provider.
What I found blew me away.
Like many people, I am an e-mail addict – checking it all the time in an effort to stay ahead of the continuous deluge. As I spend so much time on e-mail I rarely get time to check voicemail.
Amazingly, the quality of the SpinmyVmail service has been incredible, allowing me to ascertain what callers want without having to call in to listen to messages. I no longer have to check my voicemail unless there is a discrepancy in the e-mail. In about one out of five or ten e-mails I do call into the system to check a message for accuracy.
But even when I need to do this, the system makes it easy as embedded in the e-mails is a code allowing instant access to the voicemail in question. You first need to dial into the system however to listen to the message.
These are all the reasons I believe this sort of system will be common soon.
The Rambler: There are certain people who ramble on and on in my voicemail but have important points embedded in a three or more minute rambling message. I no longer have to listen to these messages. I can understand what the message says in a few seconds and determine if action is required.
The Emotional Person: You know this person. They call you upset. Angry, sad, frustrated, etc. This emotion often gets absorbed by you when you listen to the message. Sometimes this is good but often it is not. Reading an angry e-mail that was once voicemail allows you to get the meaning without the stress associated with listening to such “negative energy” messages.
Archival: There is no better way to archive voicemail than as text. I can now search my voicemails like I search anything else.
Regulation: I would imagine regulators will love to see all voicemail converted to text to simplify analysis of messages.
Productivity: It is just so much easier to check a single message store for messages. In addition you can send the converted voicemails as e-mails to others as easily as you would forward any other e-mail! Have you tried forwarding voicemail from one system to another? How about from Verizon to AT&T or from your office voicemail to a cellular line?
In addition, you can be on the phone with one person and miss multiple calls and respond to voicemail via e-mail while still on the first call.
Article Writing: OK, I threw that in here because amazingly I have written a few short articles with this system. If I have a thought about anything I call the system and start talking. When I get to a computer I can take the message, clean it up and post it as an article. Most of my readers don’t write articles but they do run into situations where they have ideas in the car or somewhere where they just can’t type it out. Now anyone can just speak their thought naturally and get them as flexible and easy to edit and forward text.
The system does recognize your cell phone number so when calling from a cell phone, you have to block your Caller ID (*67 in the US) to leave a message for yourself. If not you go straight into the administration menu.
SpinVox uses speech recognition that is about 95-100% accurate. It is pretty fast, meaning a 15 second voicemail shows up in as little as a minute or two. A three minute voicemail could take 10 minutes or so to arrive.
I have been testing SpinVox for over a week now and it is just incredible and I believe it is part of a new category of unified communications tools needed by anyone and everyone.
If I had to point out an area for improvement I would like to have the voicemails sent with the e-mails messages so I could listen to them on my PC if I so choose. A link to a file on the internet would suffice.
Even more interesting would be hyperlinking parts of the message where the computer is not 100% sure it recognized correctly. For example in one of my messages the word “Vonage’s” came in as “Vanager’s.” If this term was hyperlinked I could click on it and hear exactly the word “Vonage’s” the caller uttered.
Other than this small room for improvement, this service is one of the best productivity boosters a business can ask for.
As you no doubt know, companies send me all sorts of products and give me all sorts of demo accounts so I will write about them. I rarely have to actually pay for a service. If I had to tell you just how good SpinmyVmail is — let’s sum it up by saying, I would actually pay for it. Now if you could just keep this between me and you and not mention anything to Dan Doulton, it would be much appreciated. 😉