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Three decades of innovation in speech technology and telecommunications (talkingweb)

The wild years 1993 to 1999 ... Talkingweb is way ahead of its time. In fall 1999, Burda subsidiary Cyberlab Interactive Productions and Mannesmann Arcor AG & Co. presented a sensation: Talkingweb - the talking Internet. This was an extraordinary solution that allowed users to surf websites and have their e-mails read out to them on the phone. Talkingweb acted as an interface between the Internet and the telephone, with all navigation being carried out by voice commands. As journalist Günter Mallmann noted at the time, "When Cyberlab and Mannesmann-Arcor were looking for a partner to implement this complex solution, the choice inevitably fell on CreaLog. In all probability, no one else would have been able to handle the complex task."


Bringing the worlds of voice and data communication together

But what exactly was Talkingweb? Moreover, why can we speak without exaggeration of a real milestone in the development of voice portals? Basically, already in 1999 all kinds of web content could be provided as normal HTML 4.0/CSS pages for the requirements of speech navigation without much effort. However, the speech browser specially developed for Talking Web was able to scan the text of the pages and read out the information thus captured via speech synthesis (Text-to-Speech) on the phone.

CreaLog CEO Wolfgang Rebert was committed to the project because his company in particular specializes in communication between humans and machines. Even without a screen or a keyboard - for example, in contact center solutions. Rebert in a 1999 interview: "Compared to normal text-to-speech applications, there were other challenges for Talkingweb. Unlike the limited vocabulary of a call center solution, here the computer has to search a database of about 100,000 entries in a fraction of a second to determine the correct pronunciation of a word."

Voice control for the desired information

The result of this intensive development work could literally be heard: Anyone calling the Cyberlab headquarters in Hanover was greeted by a sympathetic, synthetic voice. Callers could choose between various information services - such as the latest news from the fields of politics, finance, weather, culture or sports. The desired information was not received by tapping a numeric key on the phone, but simply by voice command. There was even the option to skip messages or have them read out again.

mytalkingweb offers a tailor-made service

But that wasn't all: Talkingweb subscribers could even personalize the program offering on the 'mytalkingweb' website. Here they maintained their local preferences for the weather report, the desired news categories and added the access data of their e-mail box to be listened to. They could then have their e-mails read to them on the phone - and reply directly to the senders via voice messages.

Decades before smart speakers from Amazon, Google and Co., Talkingweb was way ahead of its time in 1999 with CreaLog know-how. Today, flexible, human process automation via Conversational AI instead of keystrokes is the hallmark of successful CreaLog solutions in industries such as financial services, insurance, energy supply and telecommunications. And this in over 50 languages in Europe and Africa!



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