South Africa / CSIR Openphone / Overview
OpenPhone is an open source telephone based information dissemination
environment that is aimed at addressing the significant African
need related to the information empowerment of its people. The system
aims to make it easy and inexpensive for organizations and individuals
to perform information transactions on the telephone – that is,
make information available to callers, and to gather information
from callers. Doing this in a developing and multi cultural multi-lingual
context is very challenging. Not only does South Africa’s unique
diversity calls for in depth knowledge of our human factors, language
and multi-cultural aspects but also for investigating how technology
can be applied within this developing context. This project is a
culmination of open source technologies, human language technologies,
HCI research, social research and open source principles. It investigates
the human and cultural factors that need to be considered when developing
an information transaction platform
The core of OpenPhone is the Asterisk PBX open source system (www.asterisk.org)
. Asterisk does voice over IP in many protocols, and can interoperate
with almost all standards-based telephony equipment using relatively
inexpensive hardware. DialogPalette is a graphical user interface
to Asterisk and allows a user to easily create telephony applications.
It can be conceptualised as an authoring tool for telephony applications.
The Asterisk system has been expanded to use FLITE , a text to speech
(TTS) engine designed by Carnegie
Mellon University. Flite enables the OpenPhone system to convert
text to speech using a computer generated voice.
DialogPalette is a powerful and easy to use integrated development
environment for visually creating telephonic IVR applications running
on the Asterisk open-source software PBX. It utilizes an intuitive
mouse-driven interface in conjunction with dynamic support dialogs
and flexible application "building blocks", called Event
Nodes, to graphically create speech-based applications. Traditionally,
developing telephonic speech applications requires hours of programming
and studying cryptic grammar and transition scripting languages.
Furthermore, debugging such applications can be problematic and
time consuming, as often the application must first be deployed
on a remote server in order to be tested.
To solve this problem, DialogPalette integrates Asterisk into its
design environment, using the computer's sound card and microphone
to accurately simulate a caller's experience when interacting with
your application, while allowing you to graphically follow the call
flow via an on-screen canvas.
The latest version of Dialogue Palatte can be downloaded here.