Beefing up IM with voice

Did you ever think your instant messaging experience would be improved by voice? Say2go clearly thinks so and has come up with a voice-powered solution for IM. Instead of typing your message into a text box and waiting for a text response, the solution allows you to speak your message and your colleague will receive both a voice message and text message. The service allows you to review both the transcribed text and voice messaging before sending it off.

In theory this sounds promising, as tapping an IM or other text-based message on the move can be slow and difficult. But in practice, speech recognition still lags its ambition by some margin despite many years of refining the technology. Say2go uses the Microsoft speech engine and although I followed its speech training, the software had difficulty making out what I was saying. A quieter environment might help, but this is rarely the case on the move, which makes it less useful for business travellers.

What is more interesting is the voice messaging aspect of the software. Sending voice messages is like leaving a voice mail, and similar to push-to-talk functionality on mobile phones. Microsoft launched a basic service in 2005 called Sound Clips that allowed users to send 15-second voice recordings through MSN, but Say2go has taken it to the next level by allowing users to archive received messages and edit any new messages before sending them. Currently Say2go is still fairly limited in scope as the service only works within its own environment and ICQ.

Anthony Plewes

After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.