IBM Seeks Patent On Typing-To-Speech In A Call Center

from the seriously? dept

theodp writes ""Caller: What is my account balance? The call handler responds by typing in the response '250 dollars.'" That's an excerpt from a pending IBM patent for cutting offshore call center costs further by hiring reps whose local accents make them incomprehensible to their U.S. customers without the magic of IBM text-to-speech synthesis, which Big Blue explains converts typed responses into "the native language and accent of the caller so that the outgoing voice sounds familiar to the caller.""

As Theodp noted in sending this in, you would think that Stephen Hawking's computerized speech system might count as a bit of prior art. Of course, while the patent covers more than just that, it's hard to see how the idea of letting someone type responses that are converted into speech deserves monopoly protection.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2008 @ 7:47pm

    Wow, what an amazing idea.
    I'm positive that absolutely no one has ever thought of this before.

    This is poster child for the patent system.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Jake, Apr 21st, 2008 @ 8:14pm

    There's just one flaw in the idea that I can see. If one can understand moderately complex sentences in another language, it's probably not that hard to be understood in turn. Unless IBM have made a really radical breakthrough in speech-synthesis technology -i.e. something that deserves a patent under the system as it's supposed to be- it would have to be a really dire connection before Stephen Hawking would be harder to comprehend than someone with an East European or South-East Asian accent. [Full disclosure: I am really rather good at comprehending such accents, since expats from those regions sell nearly all the decent fast food in this country.]

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Colg, Apr 21st, 2008 @ 9:28pm

    "If one can understand moderately complex sentences in another language, it's probably not that hard to be understood in turn."

    Thats a really bad assumption.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Shohat, Apr 22nd, 2008 @ 1:48am

    DEFENSIVE

    IBM are the good guys now. And most their patents are defensive, because sometimes you need to launch those missles when attacked.

    I think Sun Microsystems set a fine example when it retaliated with full and unproportional force against NetApp, claiming that the 3billion revenue company has no right to exist, and every single NetAPP product is covered by Sun's patents.
    It was cute, entertaining, and effective.
    IBM is just stockpiling against trolls.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 22nd, 2008 @ 4:54am

    Hmmmm...Calypso Wireless has a similar patent...I wonder if we will see these two in court.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Susabelle, Apr 22nd, 2008 @ 6:00am

    Like it's not been done before...

    Uhm. Maybe I should point out that adaptive technology used by disabled persons already does this...I can name a dozen products off the top of my head that do this, including JAWS, Zoomtext, WYNN, Read and Write Gold, Open Book, Scan and Read....it is a huge list.

    Not a new idea at all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 22nd, 2008 @ 6:07am

    I remember playing with a text-to-speech card for the TSR-80. That had to be what 20 years ago?

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Apr 22nd, 2008 @ 7:08am

    IBM's patents

    Greg Aharonyan did a study of IBM's patent portfolio some time ago and concluded that most of IBM's patents are junk despite the fact that IBM's technology is actually pretty good

    I agree 100% with his findings (after I did my own study of IBM's patents in some very narrow field)

    BTW, IBM's voice engine is one of the best

    Heck, I run MisterHouse home automation program and use IBM's voice engine - sounds fantastic, almost like a sci-fi movie

    "Welcome home, Sir, I'm Mister House"
    "The cold beer is in the fridge, the sauna room is heating up, enjoy your evening, Sir"

    Still, IBM is the biggest "patent troll" on Earth and everybody knows it

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    oregonnerd, Apr 22nd, 2008 @ 9:42am

    typing-to-voice

    Be a real problem if they couln't spell, eh??
    --Glenn
    [and if they ...eh...couln't spell or type either one, boy]

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 22nd, 2008 @ 6:44pm

    Re: IBM's patents

    And I thought "patent troll" defined an entity which collects patents, files law suits and does not produce a product.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    kpo, Apr 4th, 2010 @ 7:42pm

    re: IBM Seeks Patent On Typing-To-Speech In A Call Center

    Pretty interesting patent. I guess, IBM has many patents and such an innovator company.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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