Friday, April 14, 2006

Extend legacy business applications to send voice notifications

A bunch of three new voice services provided by a VoIP startup captivated my attention in the last days. The services are not addressed to end users, but to software developers who want to easily implement voice notifications.

All services are basically one and the same application exposed via three different interfaces.


This is the first one in the package. As the name suggests is an SMTP server doubled as an email-to-phone gateway as well. The service is addressed to developers who want to extent legacy applications or applications for which the source code is not available with new services such as voice notifications. If a legacy application is able to send notifications via emails by configuring an SMTP server and the message text then integration with Voice-SMTP is as easy as 1-2-3.

The first step consists in setting Voice-SMTP as the SMTP server of the application. Then, the second step is setting the message that is sent to the SMTP server. The Voice-SMTP will receive the message but instead of treat it like an email it looks into message content and interpret the enclosed text.

The message content should be written in a simple XML format that instructs the Voice-SMTP server how to deliver the voice message. One of the tags represents the phone number that should be called, while the rest describe the message that should be delivered.

For a pleasant human voice the Voice-SMTP server accepts prerecorded audio messages. The prerecorded audio messages may be stored ahead of time on the SMPT server itself for repetitive use or sent as email attachments for one time use. The user has the ability to select these messages by adding a few tags in the XML message. Voice-SMTP server comes also with a text to voice engine that can read a text with either a female or male voice. The system is able to deliver the message to both humans and answering-machines (by instructing the system to wait for silence on the line).

Email to Phone

Instead of using the Voice-SMTP server to deliver the voice message, use any SMTP server but send the message to a particular email address where a bot application will read all the emails and process them as described earlier.

Web Services Phone Gateway

The same story with this service as well. This time, though, targeted are not legacy applications but newer applications capable to consume a Web Service. This is because the platform is exposed this time like a Web Service.

To the reader: If you know any other similar services or just want more information about these ones just drop me a note.

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