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April 16, 2010 9:29 AM   Subscribe

DIY IVR? Suggestions for jury-rigging a touch-tone phone menu system with output to a text file. For further information, please press

We have a cellphone where people leave a message to let us know of absences. Farting around in the voicemail menu and listening to far too detailed explanations of gastric symptoms means I want to find another solution. We are unfortunately locked into the phone as a reporting method, and for privacy reasons may not transmit the data by internet, so voip and webservices are out too.

I am looking for a diy, free, open-source, etc solution. It could run on the phone, or on a laptop. The caller would be prompted to enter their usernumber, and then choose from X choices of absence reasons. This would output to a text file or whatever for later input into our own (horrible) system.

FTR, the phone is a Sony Ericsson, but we could buy something else if it's easier, or just put the sim-card into a laptop.
posted by Iteki to Technology (5 answers total)
I haven't done the cell phone side myself but I believe you can do this with the GSMopen module and Asterisk. You can connect the cellphone either by data cable or Bluetooth and of course Asterisk can run on a laptop. The IVR system will be the easy part, the cell phone probably the hard part. Might be easier if you can port the number to a landline run that into Asterisk.
posted by ChrisHartley at 9:52 AM on April 16, 2010

Would it be possible to ask users to send a brief SMS message to the phone rather than leaving voice-mails?
posted by James Scott-Brown at 1:07 PM on April 16, 2010

It's too bad that Internet / voip solutions are out b/c that would make things a lot easier., is like Geocities for IVR. It's free for some uses, and relatively cheap otherwise.

There are several Skype IVR addons which are relatively cheap.

Or how about just using google voice so you get the transcriptions? If the transcription qualit is not good enough, you can get YouMail, which while not free, is also cheap, and the transcriptions are pretty darn accurate.

What volume of phone calls a month do you get? That would be helpful to know.

Now, if you have to run locally, I would recommend Voxeo's Prophesy (I think I spelled the product incorrectly...) which is a full fledged IVR development system in a free package.

Are you able to forward the phone number of the cell phone to another number?
posted by reddot at 6:21 AM on April 17, 2010

Volume is maybe 50 calls a day. I think forwarding to another phone is probably off the cards.
SMS is one of the options we are considering if we can't get anything else to work, but we have issues regarding language and literacy, so we are trying to automate as much as we can.
Asterix sounds perfect, but seems to require some sort of telephony infrastructure in between?
posted by Iteki at 12:45 PM on April 17, 2010

Yeah, if you can't forward the calls to another phone, then you're probably out of luck. Perhaps w/ the Asterix solution. I don' t know enough about it to advise you on it though.

Even if you put the SIM card in the laptop, it won't be able to act like a phone. You'd be able to get data service, but not voice service.

Here's a link to Prophesy, if you are interested.

A friend of mine ported a speech recognition engine to an android phone, but as part of his work, and it doesn't interact with the telephony aspects of the phone.
posted by reddot at 4:19 PM on April 17, 2010

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