Get Your Voicemail Transcribed

Last Updated Mar 6, 2007 6:35 PM EST

One reason that the present doesn't look as much like the future that we imagined it would be twenty years ago is that voice recognition technology still isn't nearly as meaningful as we thought it would be. The recognition software is slow to learn, makes lots of mistakes, and can't generalize well from one user to the next. As a result, we're still consistently typing when we thought we would simply be shouting commands. (And writers like myself are still wasting several hours a week transcribing taped interviews.)

Slowly, though, inroads are being made as digital audio files become easier and easier to manipulate. One new company that has stepped into the audio-textual void is Simulscribe, which now offers a service that transcribes your voicemail. Over at the New York Times, David Pogue lists several ways that this service can increase efficiency, including allowing you to search your messages for important stuff and to save time by scanning and then ignoring unimportant voicemail. Venture Capitalist/blogger Fred Wilson calls it a lifechanger. For roughly twenty five cents a voicemail (minimum $10 a month), it's not particularly cheap, but it's definitely a step in the right direction.