More on Voice to Text

by Dave Michels

I recently posted The Unspoken Future of Voice Mail. An opinion that voice to text transcription is coming in a big way.

Yes, I know. Voice recognition, home video phones, and jet packs have permanent homes on Disney’s Tomorrow Land. But speech recognition is coming (daresay here). Really.

I am utterly shocked how valuable transcription is. I’ve been using speech to text through Google Voice and this is the feature I love the most. I now realize how much I don’t like traditional voice mail. I guess there was a clue that since implementing unified messaging I completely stopped dialing-in to the server – opting instead to use the desktop player and speakers. Even on my cell phone, I prefer to download the .WAV files and play them rather than dial-in.

But speech to text is a far superior experience to even downloaded audio. With Google Voice it makes its share of mistakes – but generally there is enough to understand and act on the message. Particularly the call back numbers are almost always perfect. I can click-to-dial from the desktop and cell phone browsers – Styling with my voice mail in 2009.

This Avaya video demonstrates their solution utilizing Mutare Software and Spinvox transcription.


Spinvox uses a combination of automated and human based methods to transcribe the voice messages. The computer technology self determines when it needs help and gets a human to assist for just those confusing words. This keeps the costs manageable, and the transcriptions accurate. Spinvox is not available to individuals – it is sold wholesale to service and solution providers.

Once the message is in text, it opens up a number of new capabilities including email, texting/SMS, search, and translation. You can even reconvert back to audio in a specific voice or gender.

I strongly recommend users consider voice to text transcription in their next voice messaging upgrades. The solutions are available from multiple vendors, or the solution can be found as a service if infrastructure upgrades are not in the near future.

Traditional voice mail will likely never go away, but its heyday is over. Email, twitter, Facebook, presence technology, IM, and voice to text are all reasons we don’t need to check our voice mail any more. Impervious to this progress appears to be Hotels (understandable) and cell phones (no explanation). The cell carriers really confuse me; they already charge us minutes to use the ‘free’ voice mail – seems they can hit us again to transcribe it and then more to SMS it. Based on my experience with this feature, it would sell.