SpinVox Helps Skype Turn Speech Into Text

Skype has added the ability for its users to get voicemail messages converted to text, and sent to a mobile phone via SMS (Short Message Service), the company's COO Scott Durchslag said at the Cebit trade show in Hanover, Germany, on Wednesday.

The service is based on text-to-speech technology from SpinVox, he said.

It can currently convert voice messages in English, Spanish, French and German to text. However, the SpinVox Voice Message Conversion System currently also supports Portuguese and Italian.

The cost for each voicemail-to-text conversion is €0.20 (US$0.25) plus the cost of sending an SMS at Skype's standard rates. Users pay with their Skype credit.

Skype will convert as much of a voicemail message as it can fit into three text messages, and then cut off the rest. To hear the full message the user would then have to sign on and listen to it the traditional way.

If a message can't be converted due to, for example, background noise or poor signal quality the user will be notified by SMS, which the user will still have to pay for.

To keep costs down users can choose to limit the number of conversions sent per day and opt to only receive messages from people that are in their contact list. Users can also choose to just get a notification that someone has left a message sent to them via SMS -- or e-mail, which is free.

Skype also waits ten minutes before the SMS is sent so users get a chance to listen to the voicemail first.

In addition to enabling calls between PCs and telephones, Skype also has a partnership with mobile network operator Three.

The company is looking for partnerships with other operators, Durchslag said.

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