If you pick up the phone and hear a computerized voice telling you that it's going to be late for a 2 p.m. meeting today, don't worry -- it's probably just one of your co-workers sending you a text message to your landline.
TeleMessage, a multimedia messaging technology company based in Acton, Mass., has developed a text-to-speech engine that lets users send their text messages to landline numbers and deliver them as short voice messages. The idea behind the technology, says TeleMessage Vice President of Sales Mark Carlin, is to let business users quickly and quietly send messages to co-workers, friends or family members who are likely to be sitting close to their landlines or who are not adept at text messaging. Carlin says that the text-to-landline service, which is currently available for customers of all major American telecom carriers except AT&T, also sends status reports back to the text message's sender informing him of whether their text was received by a live caller, a voice mail system or whether it was never received.
In addition to its text-to-landline service, TeleMessage has created a mail plug-in that lets users send text and voice messages from their Outlook or Lotus e-mail clients directly to wireless or landline phones. Carlin says that this particular plug-in is targeted toward enterprise users who don't want to send text messages with their cell phones but who want the option of using their e-mail clients to communicate with other users in a variety of different ways. Thus, a user can type in a short message and send it through his e-mail client as a text message to a wireless device or a voice message to a landline or wireless device.
The plug-in has several additional features designed to adapt e-mail to standard text message format, such as a character counter that will let the user know when he has exceeded the number of characters that carriers allow to be sent over SMS. The plug-in also has a voice recorder feature that allows users to send voice messages as wav files over the e-mail client to wireless or landline devices. Currently, the TeleMessage mail plug-in is only available for customers of the Canadian telco Rogers Communications and for American telco Sprint Nextel. The mail plug-in is a free service that is available via download.