Voice-Enable Your Site

Voice-Enable Your Site

Greg Alwang

Does your e-business need an edge up on the competition? iHello Voice Enable ($1,000 per month) can boost Web site interactive communications unobtrusively by adding voice to message boards, support forums, greeting cards, auctions, opinion sites, and shopping sites. For example, day traders can swap their furious typing on message boards—in all caps of course—for simple shouting into a microphone.

Voice messaging is not new, and several unified messaging providers, including Jfax and OneBox, support voice messages as attachments to e-mails. But these voice files can be cumbersome and can result in large WAV files.

iHello’s solution lets users record voice messages using a compact (20K) audio recorder applet—complete with record, stop, and review control buttons. Messages can be played back using a standard OS audio player or a telephone. iHello stores all messages on its own servers and leaves a very small footprint on your Web site.

iHello provides the necessary HTML and JavaScript code for its audio recorder so it can be integrated directly into your Web pages. Once you make the necessary changes, your site can be voice-enabled in a couple of days.

When site visitors record a message, it is sent to the iHello Operations Center, a data center that performs automatic gain control and compression before storing messages. A unique identifier is attached to each message and becomes part of the URL link that points to the message.

When a user clicks on a message URL to play it back, iHello detects the platform and browser based on the HTTP header of the request and then streams the message in the appropriate format. You can override the format and select Real Audio, TrueSpeech compressed WAV, or standard WAV file formats. You can also call a toll-free number and provide the message ID to record or hear a stored message.

Messages can be easily recorded and played back on either PCs or phones. Message lengths default to a maximum of 2 minutes but can be increased depending on the monthly subscription level.

iHello Voice Enable makes incorporating voice into a Web site easier than ever before and provides an excellent way for businesses to enrich their online presence.

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in PC Magazine.