Your Phone Can Read Your Instant Messages Outloud

Voice-based interaction with the mobile web is a concept that makes sense in some ways, but may not seem practical just yet. I don’t know about you, but I don’t even bother using voice commands on my cell phone, even if it’s just to call a friend or a relative. Why? Because it rarely seems to work. And I sometimes feel kind of silly talking to my handheld. But Ditech Networks, a mobile voice solutions company, is hoping to change such attitudes with a new platform for mobile carriers, called mStage, which will be available later this year.

What mStage does is combine regular mobile activity with voice, and the mobile web, enabling voice-based interaction in a two-way communication stream. That means that the phone will actually talk back to you, even if you’re on a call. Your phone can whisper a task or calendar reminder, or transcribe an IM you’ve received from a friend. It’s like having a personal assistant quietly interrupt your meeting to remind you of your next meeting.

The functionality of Ditech Network’s mStage platform extends to just about any application used on a mobile device, and these days that includes social networking among other things. And launching a platform with an open API means that Ditech Network is looking to power a host of solutions created by third party developers looking to enhance consumer’s mobile use. In doing so, Ditech Networks hopes that mStage will become a standard for such voice-enabled integration, encouraging apps that are more attractive to mobile providers as well as mobile users.

There are already a handful of services tied to mobile use that have voice-enabled interaction, though many of them require users to dial into a retrieval system, or log onto a website. Ditech Networks actually sees this as an obstacle to a high adoption rate, and hopes to gain support from consumers with a high level of integration for mobile use. That concept revolves around mStage apps becoming a part of the mobile conversation, in a very literal sense.

As mStage won’t be released until later this year, it’s impossible for me to test out an mStage-powered application and tell you how well it works, to have my phone whisper reminders in my ear while I’m speaking to someone else. I imagine, based on the type of app integration and the frequency, such interruptions could be too much. But that’s not the only use-case scenario for mStage. There are a number of ways in which this voice-enabled interaction can provide a hands-free experience for mobile users while they’re not on the phone, increasing the usability and functionality of various mobile apps across the board.