As I continue to speak on the use of WebRTC with language, the Aculab announcement regarding its Text to Speech engine (which is part of the Aculab Cloud) caught my eye. In effect, the scripts in automated calls allow SMBs and enterprises to focus their human resources on calls of a more critical, technical, personal and revenue generating nature, while also serving to speed up the time it takes to deliver the information a customer/caller desires. The TTS provides callers with a practical and widely accepted means for obtaining information from an automated system, and with the addition of IVONA TTS it is able to offer many more language options for developers, including:
- US English
- UK English
- Australian English
- Indian English
- Canadian French
- Brazilian Portuguese
I had an opportunity to learn more in an interview with Aculab Sales and Marketing Director David Samuel.
CF: First, congratulations on bringing Aculab’s Text to Speech product to the cloud. There are many dialects in the system, which has me wondering whether there is a location monitoring connection in play, or is this based on specific customer roll outs?
DS: We’ve had TTS capability on Aculab Cloud for a while, but with voices limited to English, Spanish and Italian. As our customer base has expanded, though, we saw a need to take things further – hence our announcement. We’ve integrated with Ivona Software who offers a wide range of voices as standard, with new voices being added all the time. In the majority of cases the developer using our cloud API would choose which TTS voice to use (German voice for Germany, etc.).
CF: Am I right in thinking that many of your customers would utilize this capability for call center activities?
DS: Cloud-based call center software is just one of the applications that our developer customers could create using Aculab Cloud. Due to the PAYG pricing model, it is also extremely well suited to call broadcast applications where high capacity is needed sporadically. Unusually for cloud telephony API vendors, we also support fax messaging so that has been another good market for us.
CF: WebRTC has become very popular among developers. Do you expect to see customers interconnect Text to Speech to a web client?
DS: Absolutely. We cater for connections from PSTN (landline and mobile), IP phones, and WebRTC clients as we want to give developers the widest possible choice for their platforms.
If the customer interconnects to our system using a browser then that does open up the possibility of location awareness. The idea of being able to check the location of the caller and respond with the appropriate voice is an interesting one, and it would definitely be achievable using the browser preference information if, for example, the caller was using a WebRTC client. The developer using Aculab Cloud would create different language versions of their program (e.g., an IVR system), and depending upon what the calling parties browser language settings were at the time of the call, the Aculab Cloud system could respond using the appropriate language version of the program.
CF: As a company with strength in hardware, how does a cloud implementation blend Aculab’s software development with the company’s hardware capabilities?
DS: Aculab have been in the telephony hardware business for many years, but a huge part of our product offerings is obviously the software that runs on the telephony boards and gateways or on standard Windows/Linux server platforms.
Our cloud product, Aculab Cloud, does not of course run on Aculab hardware — it runs on standard IT servers. However, we used our extensive knowledge of providing telephony resources to make sure we got the best out of said hardware in terms of throughputs, jitter performance, resilience and reliability. A good example of this is our ability to use our platform to support a fax broadcast service in Australia. Fax as an application is known for its susceptibility to delays, but even with the media processing (cloud) servers in the US, and the customers application server in Australia we have been able to provide the customer with a reliable platform.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi