SpinVox Is My Voicemail Hero

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, August 14, 2009 at 04:00 AM with 3 comments

SpinVox logoThere comes a time when you introduce something remarkable in to your business or life that you almost don’t realize it is even there. For me, that is SpinVox, a service which transcribes voicemail to text.

I started using SpinVox in January, and here it August. I was setup with an account by James Whatley, SpinVox’s Head of Digital & Social Media Strategy, whom I met at the Nokia OpenLab last year in Helsinki. The service is tied to my mobile voicemail, and as it worked so well I added it to my Vonage account, which they refer to it as Visual Voicemail. Since then it has been such a vital tool for me, I almost forgot life without it.

How It Works

SpinVox replaces your mobile carrier’s own voicemail system, in my case T-Mobile. This is achieved by forwarding all calls that do not answer to numbers tied to the SpinVox system. When someone leaves me a voicemail, I get both an email and a SMS (or text message as we call it in the US). Each has the transcribed text of the voicemail plus numbers to call to listen and reply to the message. For my Vonage line, it was simply adding the service, and the regular emails and SMSs I received now have the text of the message.

So how well does it transcribe it? Not bad! Common words come through without missing a beat. Names and not-so common words come through pretty well, and if it cannot translate it exactly, it does it phonetically and even puts a question mark next to it. For example, my last name, Maddaloni, is usually spelled out phonetically. All in all I rarely have to listen to a message to understand it, but if I want to I can. The delivery of messages is not instantaneously as compared to traditional voicemail, but it usually arrives within a few minutes.

Why It Works

You may be asking, as I did originally, so what? There are 2 benefits to SpinVox that made me a true believer. The first is the ability to read a voicemail message when you don’t have the ability to listen to it. In the middle of a meeting, calls get translated to text and you can get the gist of it without putting the device to your ear. Many times a return email or SMS to the caller will do the trick. A second and equal benefit is the ability to file and store transcriptions of voicemails. This is huge, as many times project details are communicated by voicemail, and now you have a written record that can be stored in email archives or in other digital files.

Another feature of SpinVox is Memo. This is where you can speak a message to yourself and it is delivered in an email message to you. I find myself using this when I am out for a walk and ideas come to me, and I don’t have – or want – paper and a pen.

Reading voicemail is a great convenience in today’s multitasking world, and SpinVox makes it easy. It is available through several carriers, such as Vonage, Skype and Verizon in the US and Rogers in Canada. If you are not on these carriers you can get it as an add-on through uReach. On the uReach or SpinVox sites you can try it for yourself to see how well it translates your voice, which for me at least was an experience the first time I saw it.

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