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Intelligent telephone e-mail access

The project will research and develop a commercial multilingual cti application for voice-enabled telephone access to user e-mails. Free access will be provided for user groups with disabilities, especially blind and visually impaired people.

BACKGROUND TO THE PROBLEM: Recent initiatives involving e-inclusion aim to prevent risks of 'digital exclusion', which is to ensure that disadvantaged people are not left behind, and to avoid new forms of exclusion due to a handicap, lack of digital literacy or of Internet access. At the same time, e-inclusion also means tapping new 'digital opportunities' for the inclusion of socially disadvantaged people and less-favoured areas. The Information Society has the potential to distribute knowledge resources more equally and to offer new job opportunities, also by overcoming traditional barriers to mobility and geographical distances. The strategic challenge for e-inclusion applications and services is thus twofold: - to fully exploit the ICT potential to overcome traditional forms of social exclusion, - to ensure that all citizens benefit from the Information Society. The third objective of the recent i2010 Communication: 'an Information Society that is inclusive, provides high quality public services and promotes quality of life', brings new challenges for e-inclusion. Furthermore, 2007 has been proclaimed by the EC as the 'European year of equal opportunities for all', as a joint effort to promote equal opportunities and to prevent discrimination. The proposed project directly tackles a large target group of end-users within the e-inclusion indicative, namely the blind and visually impaired community, along with the elderly - the ageing population, which is often much more experienced in using telephones than computers. Both target groups are not able to use one of the most widespread basic communication means of our time - the electronic mail or e-mail. PROPOSED SOLUTION: Speech technologies, which will be implemented in the scope of the project, are a crucial enabling technology for providing telephone access to e-mails. They will be integrated into a Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) application in order to solve the problem mentioned above. We will provide the disadvantaged end-user groups with the ITEMA e-mail reader: a user-friendly solution to e-mail access over the telephone. With ITEMA, users will not only be able to listen to the e-mails received in a variety of European languages, with an emphasis on ex-Yugoslav languages (Slovenian, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Macedonian), but will also be able to choose between basic responses to the e-mail heard. In addition, they will be able to manage their e-mail database by saving or deleting individual messages. An intuitive voice or dial-tone driven user interface will provide safe navigation through the application. By the end of the project, a toll-free number will be provided in all the participating countries where free voice-enabled e-mail access over telephone lines will be enabled for the chosen end-user target groups with disabilities, in particular for blind and visually-impaired persons. In addition to the mentioned target groups, the project results have a large commercial potential since they can be used by enterprises, ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and telecom carriers to provide remote telephone access to e-mails of their clients and users. A typical scenario would be checking e-mails in a car while driving to work or to the next meeting, or even while on vacation. The project partners will build the project on technologies they have already developed, and link them together into a both humanitarian and commercially promising application. By doing so, we will extend the geographical coverage of e-mail as one of the most useful ICT services for all citizens where broad-band access is underdeveloped, yet a telephone infrastructure exists. Keywords: speech synthesis, IVR (Interactive Voice Response), CTI (Computer Telephone Integration).
Acronym: 
ITEMA
Project ID: 
3 864
Start date: 
01-07-2006
Project Duration: 
36months
Project costs: 
750 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Speech Processing/Technology
Market Area: 
Other telephone related (including telephone cost accounting systems, telephone related telephone test systems and telephone answering service equipment)

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.