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.