Shuttlegirl, Menus Accessible by Phone
Harvard students eager to find out whether the featured meal of the day is the healthy grinder or the baked scrod and who need to know when the next shuttle will be leaving the Quad will be happy to learn that dining menus and shuttle schedules are now just a phone call away.
The Harvard Computer Society (HCS) launched its new Voice Portal on Friday, a telephone-based, voice-operated information system that can be accessed by any telephone, including campus Centrex phones, by calling 384-TELL (4-TELL if on campus).
The voice-operated system is run on a platform developed by Tellme Networks, whose voice portal services offer news feeds, stock quotes, and other commercial forms of information by phone.
"[The Tellme voice portal] is kind of like the web for voice," HCS president Scott Golder said.
Golder explained that the telephone service is just an interface, and that the information provided over the phone comes from web files that are running on the HCS server.
Tellme Networks provided both funding and technological support to the Voice Portal project. All programming, however, was done by HCS members.
The shuttle schedule is running off of Shuttlegirl, the scheduling system developed by Anthony Delvecchio `01 and Jason Karamchandani `02. Shuttlegirl can also be accessed online at the shuttlegirl.com website and via palm-held devices.
The Voice Portal project, initiated last Fall, was a joint effort by HCS, student project leader David Mitby `01, Delvecchio and Karamchandani.
Delvecchio said the new system had a successful opening weekend.
"I think most people just like the voice," he said, referring to the shuttle schedule, which features the voice of Colleen Gargan `02.
And Golder said that HCS is looking to make more applications available via the voice portal in the Fall.
"People out there have all sorts of ideas about things they would like to get access to, and HASCS will work to make these things accessible via the voice portal," Golder said.
Mitby said that he would like to see the Voice Portal connect users to local pizza places, and that an ultimate goal would be to make the student phone directory accessible by the portal as well.
All those involved with the project stressed that they welcome any and all ideas for improvements or additions to the voice portal. Suggestions can be sent to email@example.com.
--Staff Writer Kate L. Rakoczy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org