coming of voice portals
You've got to try Tellme--if you haven't already
done so. And forgive me for yet another geewhiz
column. As much as I've used new technologies I
always end up being astounded by something that
comes along. And today it's Tellme.
Tellme isn't a web site, it's a "voice portal."
As you know, the term portal has come to refer to
sites like Yahoo that offer lots of features such
as news, weather, e-mail, searching, shopping, and
more. Voice portals similarly give you access to a
wide range of information, but you access it by
calling an 800 number and simply speaking choices
from a menu. Tellme can be reached by calling
And it's a surprising amount of fun. How to
describe it? A friendly voice comes on and makes it
easy to speak your choices. You always know where
you're at and what to do next. In my test the
system was flawless and understood perfectly what I
said. The main menu offers some 18 categories,
including weather, time, movies, sports, stock
quotes, news, and elections.
If you select news, you can choose from a range
of selections such as top stories. If you select
that, you then hear a CNN newscast not unlike what
you'd hear at the top of the hour on the radio.
Select weather and it automatically recognizes what
city you're from and offers you the current
conditions and forecast. If you want it will also
tell you the extended forecast. You can request the
weather for any city.
Sometimes these sorts of services just have
information for larger cities, but in this case it
was able to tell me the weather for Fairfield, the
movies that are playing at the Co-Ed Theater, even
the restaurants available in town. You can tell it
what kind of food you want, such as Mexican, and it
will tell you the name and location of the
restaurant and then offer to connect you.
Sports seems to be limited to professional
level, so I didn't have any luck getting the
results from the regional college football games.
The stock quote feature worked well, offering
up-to-the minute quotes on stocks that I'm
interested in. I have to admit that this is a lot
faster than logging on to my online broker if I
just want to get a quick quote.
The elections choice offered recorded messages
by Al Gore and George Bush on a range of issues,
including economy, education, health care, taxes,
and social security. You simply speak out the
issue, and then it plays each candidate's message
The phone booth selection on the main menu
simply lets you place a free, two-minute,
© 2000 by Jim Karpen, Ph.D.