A new service from Audiopoint will make it easier for the visually impaired to be instantly notified of headlines and new e-mail messages, without ever having to log on or look at a screen.
Brian Lichorowic, CEO of the voice technology company, said that as far as he knows, the new "Voice Terminal Service" or VTS, is one of a kind because it's "proactive instead of reactive." VTS will alert subscribers via any telephone when a calendar event or e-mail pops up or a news feed or keyword is updated.
"This is perfect for the elderly who just want to be able to know when they have an e-mail from their grandson, and to respond to that," Lichorowic said. Consumers will respond to e-mails by recording an MP3 file that will be attached to the messages. Lichorowic said the technology for speech-to-text e-mails is not available yet.
Other "voice portal technology" services are available, such as TellMe or HeyAnita. With AudioPoint's VTS, subscribers will be able to narrow their information to a specific niche and locale--getting local news or sports, for example--and in the future, can choose from 6,000 different feeds. Lichorowic said the service also sends notifications about Amber Alerts or inclement weather.
Future updates of VTS will let subscribers use Google Calendars through the phone, whether a user has Gmail or not. Other e-mail services can be used, or the consumer can subscribe to VoiceTerminal.org e-mail for $5 a month.
The service, which launches this week, does come with a fee, at least for some. VTS will be free for disabled U.S. veterans, while others in financial straits can apply for monetary aid. Unlimited service, including unlimited minutes and alerts, will cost $499.95 annually, with simpler services, such as monthly service with 1,000 minutes of call time, costing $19.95.