UX Magazine Contributor

Control an Entire Phone System with
Voice Commands

Magic Button software featuring LumenVox speech recognition and Asterisk® PBX provides a better alternative to Microsoft Response Point

Neenah, WI (FEB 1, 2009) — Users who want a powerful, open architecture, speech-driven phone system for their small-to-mid-sized business now have a new option that delivers more features, better flexibility and a lower total cost of ownership than similar offerings from Microsoft.

Schmooze Communications and speech recognition provider LumenVox, announced today the general release of the Magic Button for Asterisk, the Open Source PBX. The Magic Button is a plug-in for Asterisk systems using the FreePBX interface that allows users to press a programmable button on a phone and issue speech commands to control the phone in an easy, intuitive manner.

The Magic Button will be on display at the Internet Telephony Conference and Expo, Feb. 2 — 4 in Miami.

"The Magic Button is better, cheaper, and more flexible than anything else on the market," said Tony Lewis, Schmooze's director of business development.

With a touch of the Magic Button, users can use their voice to make calls, set an away status, send and receive messages, and more. The Magic Button also allows for voice controls inside a call — users can press the button in the middle of a call and say, "Transfer to accounts payable," to send the call to the appropriate department or person.

The Magic Button gives users a speech-enabled dial-by-name directory and allows them to use speech recognition to control their voicemail, and goes well beyond Microsoft's offering in terms of advanced speech-enabled features.

Setting away statuses via speech is one of the most compelling advanced features of the Magic Button and this functionality is also fully integrated into each user's phone and their desktop. Users can say, "I'm at lunch," or "I'm in a meeting."

Anyone in the organization can say "Where is John Smith?" and the system will notify the user if John Smith is away and when that user will return. Upon saying "I'm back," any person that requested notification of that user's return will be automatically paged and have the option of connecting to that user immediately.

The LumenVox Speech Engine and the Asterisk PBX represent two of the most flexible and future-proof solutions in their respective markets, bringing the total cost of ownership for a Magic Button system well below that of Microsoft's Response Point system, yet offering more functionality.

"Unlike the proprietary, closed systems offered by Microsoft and other vendors, the Magic Button allows customers to use their existing hardware and software and add speech recognition for almost no cost," LumenVox President Edward Miller said. "This allows users to build a custom solution to fit their needs that they can easily upgrade with any new hardware or software of their choosing in the future."

Where other similar systems require large amounts of money upfront to buy their combined hardware and software offerings, the Magic Button presents a novel approach: users can implement it into their existing Asterisk at a low monthly rate.

"The cost for the Magic Button application on a system with 10 extensions is only $12/month," Lewis said. "Add to this the free, open source Asterisk PBX, a PC, and phones, and you have a complete phone system with features that are currently only available in an enterprise-level PBX."

"Magic Button systems are built on flexible, open standards, and do not require specific hardware, unlike the Microsoft offering which is a proprietary black-box solution," Miller said.

Contrast this with a Microsoft Response Point system, which can cost $2,500 for just four extensions.

"This pricing structure and implementation is only possible because of the close collaboration of agile companies," Lewis said. "A juggernaut like Microsoft would never be able to bring this sort of unique approach to the market."

"As the sponsor of Asterisk, we are pleased to see innovative solutions such as "Magic Button" that extend the capabilities of open source telephony while addressing a clear market need," said Jim Webster, director of technology partnerships for Digium.

For more information on signing up for the public release of these applications please visit www.schmoozecom.com.

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