Voicemail to text
As we are all moving towards total mobility, listening to voice mails is increasingly becoming difficult. When you are sitting in a restaurant, train, ore other loud and noisy places, it is much easier to read the text instead of listening to the recording. At least the text transcript can help determining how urgent a message is. (Only in cars listening to voice seems to be the best choice, as texting is dangerous when driving).
It seems that in 2016 we will be finally be able to offer a solution for this old problem. We don't do this in house, the cloud comes to rescue here. There are a couple of services available, we have picked voicecloud for now.
The way it works is like this. After the message has been recorded, the PBX sends a request to the transcription service with the address of the recording. The address contains some "secrets", actually hashes over secrets, so that not everyone can start pulling down voicemail recordings without proper authentication. Then the cloud service pulls the recording and starts transcribing it.
There are human and machine transcription services available. For voicemail, IMHO human transcription makes only limited sense because it takes some time until the job is done. Although its precision is much better than machine transcription, time is essential for voicemail.
After the transcription is done, the service posts the results back to the PBX. It can then continue processing the mailbox message and put the email together. It then contains the recording and the text.
We did a couple of tests. The text ist not always correct, but at least it gives you an idea what the voicemail is about. It does save a lot of time if you know how serious the message is and when you need to take care about it.
I believe the feature is mostly interesting for hosted PBX providers. The setup is not that straight forward, and you need to have an account with the cloud transcription service. It does require a public IP address, or at least a port forward; otherwise the cloud service cannot post the results back to the PBX. But it is a great addition to features that are available to the clients, and it sure helps to provide more value.