L20 Leo
United States Patent [19]
[11]
Patent Number:
4,697,282
Winter et al.
[45]
Date of Patent:
* Sep. 29, 1987
[54]
TELEPHONE OPERATOR VOICE STORAGE
4,359,607 11/1982 Hannig et a1. ...................... .. 379/88
AND RETRIEVAL SYSTEM
4,420,656 12/1983
[75] Inventors: Walter W. Winter, Melbourne;
Freeman ............. .. .
379/73
Primary Exami'1er_Th°maS w- BrPWn
Steven E_ Gotham, Palm Bay; John
Attorney, Agent, or Fzrm--Antonell1, Terry & Wands
H. Drew, Indialantic, all of Fla.
[57]
[73] Assignee:
Golden Enterprises, Inc., Melbourne,
A telephone operator voice storage and retrieval system
[*1 N mice:
FlaThe portion Ofthe term ofthis patent
is capable of presenting to the caller a played-back,
previously recorded response message in the actual
subse “em to N (W 8 2003 has been
voice of the operator on duty at the time. The operator
_
dis c1 acilm e d
' ’
is also able to follow-up the played back, previously
'
recorded response message with a conversation with
[21] Appl. No.: 876,394
.
the caller, without the caller detecting a chan e in the
' '
'
d operator
g voice.
'
c h aracteristics
o f t h e ca 11 er’s perceive
_
[22] Flled'
Jun‘ 20’ 1986
_
[63]
[51]
The storage and retrieval system employs a voice analy
_
zer/synthesizer coupled between a response message
Related U'S' Apphcahon Data
Continuation of Ser. No. 601,711, Apr. 18, 1984, Pat.
No. 4,623,761.
Int Cl 4
H04M 3/50
.
[52]
ABSTRACT
.
............................................ ..
.
memory and an audio interface to the operator’s audio
equipment (headset). After the storage of a series of
response messages, prepared by the operator, the sys
tern is ready for use in answering incoming calls. In this
'
playback mode’ as incoming calls are monitored, the
US Cl
.
. .
..
...
.. . ...
.379/67
379/84
'
'
' ' ''''' ' '' ''''''''
''' ' '
' " 379/88"379/21§
[58] Field of Search
3.79/77 8’2 84 88
’
’
’
’
.
enunciated
response
mes
sage is accessed from memory and, via the voice synthe
214 71’ 91’ 79’ 67’
’
[56]
.
.
appropriate operator’s voice
sizer and an audio interface, that message is played back
’
to the caller. When the caller speaks again, the operator,
References Cited
who has been on-line the entire time but has been re
U S PATENT DOCUMENTS
lieved of the need to actually recite the response phrase,
' '
now proceeds to converse with the caller. The audio
Kraus .................................. ..
4,032,712 6/1977 cimo et a1- "
' 360/71 X
interface contains automatic level control circuitry
which ensures that there is effectively no difference in
glordsrnotml' ' ' ' ' '
8;
the recorded voice played back to the caller and the
4’277’649 7/1981 slfggbeii a’
4:313:035 V1982 Jordan et
' 379/201
379/207
“live” voice spoken by the operator. As a result, the
storage and retrieval system is listener transparent.
4,328,396
. . . ..
5/1982
Theis
‘' ' ' '
. . .. .... .. ... . . .
379/71
4,355,207 10/1982 Curtin ................................. .. 379/67
CALL TYPE
_\
k
50
40
- a“
RETRIEVAHFIGZ) "3° °‘"
L20
CALLER 70
)
__]VlA TELEPHONE
(if)
AUDIO IN
MESSAGE
STORAGE AND
23 Claims, 3 Drawing Figures
‘V
AUDIO
INTERFACE UNlT ~
(no. 3)
Leo
U. S. Patent Sep. 29, 1987
Sheet 1 of 3
4,697,282
FIG‘. I.
CALLER 70
VIA TELEPHONE
SERVICE
EQUIPMENT
CALL TYPE
DETECTION
OPERATOR
42w
I
I
MESSAGE
STORAGE AND
RETRIEVALIFIG. 2)
L20
AUDIO IN
‘
L-lI
AUDIO our
AUDIO
INTERFACE UNIT
(Fl e. 3)
L50
1
4,697,282
TELEPHONE OPERATOR VOICE STORAGE AND
RETRIEVAL SYSTEM
This is a continuation of application Ser. No. 601,711
?led Apr. 18, 1984, now US. Pat. No. 4,623,761, issued
Nov. 18, 1986. -
2
caller detecting a difference in the characteristics of the
played-back voice and the_“live” operator’s voice, so
that operator voice response message storage and re
trieval system of the invention is effectively transparent
to the caller.
For this purpose the present invention employs a
voice analyzer/synthesizer coupled between a response
message memory and an audio interface to the opera
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates, in general, to telephone
systems and is particularly directed to a call answering
scheme through which a prerecorded response message
is returned to the calling party, either through operator
control, or automatically, while permitting the operator
to remain on-line and have the ability to inject his/her
voice into the communication link to the calling party
without any detectable change in quality of the voice
tor’s audio equipment (headset). The memory is prefera
bly a high speed/high density semiconductor RAM
mechanical storage and retrieval devices (e.g. magnetic
ensures that there is effectively no difference in the
(such as one contained in the form of a modular car
tridge) into which response messages read aloud by the
operator are stored after being digitized by the voice
analyzer, during the record mode of the system. After a
series of approved response messages, as prepared by
the on-duty operator, have been stored, the system is
ready for use in responding to incoming calls. In this
(playback) mode, incoming calls are answered, either
being received by the calling party.
by the operator or automatically and, in accordance
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
20 with the type of call received, the appropriate opera
tor’s voice-enunciated response message that had been
Operator-assisted telephone service facilities, such as
previously entered into memory is accessed. Then, via
directory assistance, PBX and Toll Service, require that
the voice synthesizer and an audio interface, that mes
the service operator handle a large number of similar
sage (in the operator’s own voice) is played back to the
calls over the operator’s work period, with the number
caller. When the caller speaks again, the operator, who
of daily incoming requests for assistance typically vary
has been on-line the entire time but has been relieved of
ing from 800 to 1,300, depending upon the time of day
the need to actually recite the response message, now
and year. Previous attempts to reduce the operator’s
proceeds to converse with the caller. The audio inter
work time employed automatic response systems which
face contains automatic level control circuitry which
contain prerecorded messages usually stored on electro
tape cassette or disk devices). Unfortunately, such sys
tems do not alleviate the operator’s burden of perform
ing what is effectively a monotonous routine. Also,
differences in voice characteristics (e.g. tonal quality,
accent, gender) tend to create a negative customer reac
tion.
An additional problem is the fact that it is extremely
dif?cult for an operator to answer similar calls with the
same enthusiasm, courtesy and ef?ciency over an ex
tended period of time. Incoming calls are placed by
customers whose service requests to them are unique
and, as such, the customers expect the service provided
by the operator to be helpful, courteous and ef?cient. If,
however, the customer’s call is answered by an operator
whose voice response is less than desired or, even
worse, by a mechanical-sounding prerecorded response
message prepared by one person’s voice and then fol
lowed by the voice of the operator, which not only is
different from that of the intercepting response message
but conveys a tone that is less than customer-courteous
to the caller, it can readily be appreciated how the caller
may be confused and often disappointed in the service.
audio level of the recorded voice played back to the
caller and the “live” voice spoken by the operator. As a
result, because the recorded message is in the operator’s
own voice and both live voice and played-back voice
are coupled over the same signal ?ow path, the storage
and retrieval system is effectively listener transparent.
This listener transparency is an especially attractive
feature of the present invention, as it prevents the opera
tor’s “live” voice from confusing the caller, as, for ex
ample, would be the case if the response message was
given in a female voice abruptly followed by the voice
of a male operator handling the remainder of the live
call, or releasing a portion of the call to another voice
generated by a conventional automatic response system.
The audio interface portion of the system provides
45
full duplex voice transmission (and level control) capa
bility, allowing the operator to hear the caller’s voice
regardless of line or equipment variations or caller’s
idiosyncrasies in telephone usage. Advantageouslythe
system makes use of microelectronics signal processing
and storage components making it adaptable with a
variety of telephone systems and readily intercoupled
with an existing operator’s console.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
In accordance with the present invention, the need to 55
FIG.
1 is a simpli?ed block diagram showing of the
provide the operator with a mechanism for reducing the
telephone
operator voice message storage and retrieval
monotonous routine of answering similar types of calls
scheme of the present invention;
while avoiding drawbacks of conventional automatic
FIG. 2 is a schematic block diagram of the digitized
response systems, such as those mentioned above, is
satis?ed by a telephone operator voice storage and 60 voice storage and retrieval unit of the scheme shown in
FIG. 1; and
retrieval system that is capable of presenting to the
FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram of the audio interface
customer (caller) a response message (selected from a
unit of the scheme shown in FIG. 1.
library of approved answering phrases that have been
determined to be the most effective for the inquiries
DETAILED DESCRIPTION
received) in the actual voice of the operator that is on 65
duty at the time. At the same time the present invention
permits the operator to follow-up the played-back mes
sage with a conversation with the caller, without the
Before describing, in detail, the particular improved
telephone operator voice storage and retrieval system in
accordance with the present invention, it should be
3
4,697,282
observed that the invention resides primarily in a novel
structural combination of conventional data/signal pro
cessing. components and communication circuits, and
not in the particular detailed con?gurations thereof.
Accordingly, the structure, control and arrangement of
4
“live” voice communication may be established be
tween the operator 10 and the caller 70. Pursuant to the
present invention, however, the initial conversation/re
sponse voice interface between the telephone service
facility and the caller 70 is provided from the message
storage and retrieval unit 20 without the need for the
these conventional components and circuits have, for
operator 10 to speak directly to the caller 70. As men
the most part, been illustrated in the Drawings by
tioned previously, this not only provides the intended
readily understandable block representations and sche
relief for the operator 10, but ensures that the caller is
matic diagrams, which show only those speci?c details
that are pertinent to the present invention, in order not 0 supplied with the correct response message voice reply
(Le a preestablished customer-oriented and optimized
to obscure the disclosure with structural details which
response that has been previously recorded by the oper
will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art having
ator in his/her own voice so that the message is pleasing
the bene?t of the description herein. Thus, for example,
multi conductor busses are simpli?ed and power supply
and informative to the listener).
Audio interface unit 30, in addition to providing on
terminals and leads have been omitted for clarity. In
line communication capability between the operator l0
addition, various portions of an electronic data process
and the caller 70, serves to provide automatic voice
ing system have been appropriately consolidated and
level adjustment for all audio that is coupled to the
simpli?ed in order to emphasize those portions that are
caller 70, whether that audio be generated from the
most pertinent to the invention. Thus, the block dia
operator’s headset or from the message storage and
gram illustrations of the Figures do not necessarily
retrieval unit 20. Audio signal coupling between the
represent the mechanical structural arrangement of the
audio interface unit 30 and the message storage and
exemplary system, but are primarily intended to illus
retrieval unit 20 is effected over input/output links
trate the major structural components of the system in a
convenient functional grouping, whereby the present
11/21.
.
25
Referring now to FIG. 2, a schematic block diagram
invention may be more readily understood.
of the message storage and retrieval unit 20 is illustrated
Referring now to FIG. 1 of the drawings, there is
as being comprised of a voice input/output unit 12, a
shown a generalized block diagram of the telephone
call type unit 13 and a control unit 14. Voice inp'ut/out
operator voice storage and retrieval system of the in
put unit 12 is coupled to audio interface unit 30 by way
vention which is to be associated with an operator
assisted telephone service facility. Such a facility is 30 of audio input link 11 and audio output link 21. Audio
input signals input over link 11 represent voice signals
coupled to a link 50 which includes both voice and call
generated by the operator 10 during the response mes
identi?cation lines for handling and responding to re
sage “record” mode of operation of the system for stor
“ quests from a caller or customer 70. The tip and sleeve
portions of the telephone link are coupled to an audio
interface unit 30 (to be described in detail below with
reference to FIG. 3), while those links indicating the
type of incoming call are coupled to a detector 40. It is
-to be observed here that both the voice and type of call
information have been shown as a single link 50 in FIG.
1 for purposes of simplifying the illustration and de
f“ scription. The actual signal conveying conductors and
ing response messages to be later played back to reply
to incoming calls. These audio signals are digitized and
analyzed within the voice input/output unit 12 and
stored in digital form in memory in the control unit 14.
Similarly, such stored digital encoded voice messages
are read out from memory in the control unit 14, synthe
sized and coupled over link 21 to the audio interface
unit 30 for playback to a caller 70.
detection circuitry for establishing the type of call are
Call type unit 13 effectively comprises a buffer for
conventional and need not be described here for an
storing an indication of the type of call for which a
understanding of the invention.
Call-type detector 40 may be of conventional con?g
uration employing a bank of indicators monitored by an
operator 10 who, via a switch panel interface, selects an
reply message is to be generated. Call type unit 13 is
45 coupled to the detector 40, either by way of a switch
panel that is operator-controlled or through an auto
matic detector, such as an opto-electronic detector,
appropriate code for identifying the type of response
which monitors the operator/attendant’s telephone
message to be returned to the caller 70. This would
facility terminal. The data that is stored in buffer 41 is
accessed by a control unit 14 for selecting the appropri
normally involve the operator monitoring an optical
read-out panel of call-type detector 40 and then, via a
switch panel interface, causing the playback of a stored
response message, such as from a magnetic tape cas
ate response message that has been stored in memory to
be read-out and generated as a reply message to be
delivered to the caller 70.
The control unit 14 contains processor, memory and
sette. Rather than have the operator perform this task,
however, it is possible to employ a bank of associated 55 communication bus components for controlling the
operation of message storage and retrieval unit 20 as
detectors, such as opto-electronic detectors, coupled
with the indicator unit of the call-type detector 40 of the
operator-generated response messages are stored and
later accessed and delivered to a caller, depending upon
telephone service facility of interest, which supplies a
the type of call buffered by call type unit 13.
set of codes over a link 42 to a message storage and
retrieval system 20, to be described below with refer
DIGITAL STORAGE AND RETRIEVAL UNIT
ence to FIG. 2. In other words, the type of call being
_detected may be monitored manually by the operator
and the information identifying the type of call coupled
to the message storage and retrieval system 20 by an
operator switch panel interface, or it may be handled
automatically without operator intervention.
The operator 10 is also coupled to the audio interface
unit 30 by way of his/her headset, so that an on-line,
(FIG, 2)
Looking now, in greater detail, at the components of
the response message storage and retrieval unit 20 of
FIG. 2, within the voice input/output unit 12, audio
input link 11, which receives analog input signals ‘corre
sponding to the audio voice supplied by the audio inter
face unit 30, is coupled to an analog-to-digital converter
4,697,282
5
input signal and couples the quantized-encoded sample
values to a shift register 31. Shift register 31 serializes
during the operation of the system. Each of select logic
out the digitized voice signal samples supplied by ADC
units 54 and 44 is accessed by control signals on control
bus 62 and address bus 52 from microprocessor 61.
24 over link 33 to a voice analyzer/synthesizer 32. (As
mentioned previously, each of the components em
As mentioned previously, call type unit 13, which
comprises buffer 41, may be coupled to the control
terminal of a telephone service facility either through
the operator’s control switch panel for manually con
ployed in the present invention is well known, so that
no detailed description thereof need be supplied here.
For example, the voice analyzer/synthesizer unit 32
may be a commercially available unit from OKI Semi
trolling the response message to be generated to the
caller, or through an interface unit which automatically
generates control codes to be stored in buffer 41 for
accessing the response messages stored in memory 51.
conductor.)
For providing the sampling and communication tim
ing among units 24, 31 and 32, a clock source is coupled
over link 23 to each of ADC 24, shift register 31 and
analyzer/synthesizer 32. It is also coupled to a divider
25 to reduce the frequency for accessing and control
ling a load or_ shift select circuit 26 which is coupled to
ADC 24 over link 27 and to shift register 31 over link
In either case, these codes are coupled over a link 42
and stored in buffer 41. As mentioned above, an addi
tional buffer 53 is coupled over link 43. Buffer 53 is
monitored by processor 61 for initiating the operation
of the storage and retrieval unit of FIG. 2. As will be
described in detail below, link 43 is coupled to a voice
detector within the audio interface unit 30 (FIG. 3)
which prevents control unit 14 from allocating memory
for incoming voice signals until there is actually a voice
signal being coupled over link 11. This is employed
28. Shift select logic unit 26 provides the appropriate
digitized transfer coupling between ADC 24 and shift
register 31, in a customary fashion. A separate clock is
coupled over link 34 to analyzer/synthesizer 32 for
providing the control of the read-out analyzer/synthe
sizer 32.
_
The analog voice that is supplied from synthesizer
6
via links 56 and 55, respectively. In addition, an input
/output select unit logic unit 44 is employed for selec
tively accessing the contents of buffers 36, 37 and 41
(ADC) 24. ADC 24 samples and digitizes the audio
25
portion of unit 32 is coupled over link 21 to the audio
interface unit 30 in FIG. 3, to be described below. The
during the record mode operation wherein the operator
will record response messages in her/his own voice for
storage in memory 51. Line 43 is monitored by the
processor and it is not until the operator actually begins
to speak during this record mode that the processor
portion of unit 32 are coupled as digitized voice data
over interface 35 to a buffer 36. Similarly, the synthe 30 allocates memory for storing the digitized voice, as
opposed to simply beginning successively accessing
sizer portion receives digitized voice data from an out
memory addresses for storing the contents of buffer 36
put buffer 37 to which voice message words read out of
to which digitized voice data is coupled over link 35
memory stored in the control unit 14 are coupled, as
from analyzer 32, without regard to whether ADC 24 is
will be described below.
actually receiving voice signals or is waiting for those
Each of buffers 36, 37, 41 and a buffer 53 is coupled
voice signals from the operator and would thereby be
to data bus 45 within the control unit 14. Buffer 53 is
supplying useless data to memory.
coupled over link 43 to audio-interface unit 30 (FIG. 3)
Operation
and stores a voice detection signal coupled thereto from
Looking now at the operation of the message storage
unit 30. Data bus 45 includes communication highway
and
retrieval unit, there are two modes of operation of
conductors for conveying both data and a portion of the
the unit RECORD and PLAYBACK.
address signals to be employed within the control unit
14 for accessing the various components thereof. In the
RECORD MODE
digitized voice components supplied from the analyzer
exemplary embodiment, data bus 45 may be a commer
cially available Z-80 type bus structure.
The record mode is employed by the operator at the
Control unit 14 is an intelligent-based unit under con 45 telephone service facility to record response messages
trol of microprocessor 61, which is coupled to data bus
that will be used during the operator’s work period.
45, to an address bus 52 and to a control bus 62 in a
conventional manner. The clock source for micro
This task may be advantageously carried out at a redun
dant storage and retrieval system located in a room or
processor 61 is coupled over link 65.
In addition to microprocessor 61, control unit 14
area separate from the operator’s work station. As men
includes a response message memory 51, such as a static
messages are stored, may be contained in the form of a
RAM in the form of a pluggable modular cartridge, and
a program store unit 46. Each of memories 51 and 46 is
coupled to data bus 45 and to address bus 52 for access
by microprocessor 61. Program store unit 46 stores the
instruction set for controlling the operation of the stor
age and retrieval unit and the manner in which it inter
faces with the remainder of the system. As that instruc
tion set may take on a number of forms depending upon
the desires of the programmer, it will not be described
in detail here. Instead, the operational scenario carried
out by the program stored in memory 46 will be de
scribed, in order to provide a more ef?cient description
of the invention.
Control unit 14 also includes a memory select logic 65
unit 54 (consisting of combinational logic) through
which microprocessor 61 selectively accesses response
message storage RAM 51 or program store memory 46
tioned previously, the memory 51, in which response
removable cartridge module as part of the hardware of
control unit 14, whereby the operator is able to employ
a portable and compact mechanism for generating a
library of response messages.
Now, in the course of preparing a ?le of response
messages, predetermined (e.g. supervisor approved/ed
ited) response phrases are recorded by the operator as
the operator supplies control signals, as through a
switch panel coupled to detector 40, for generating
response message designation codes to be stored by
buffer 41. The messages themselves are coupled via the
audio interface unit 30 over audio input link 11, as de
scribed above. The particular response message codes
and associated response messages are generated and
recorded by the operator in order that the processor 61
will know where to store the response messages in
RAM 51. Simply put, each response message 'will be
7
4,697,282
identi?ed by a binary code coupled from the operator
switch panel over link 42 and stored in buffer 41. For
example, if the operator were to record a response
8
ler 70, and to the storage and retrieval unit 20 in FIG. 2.
At the operator’s position, a dual microphone input is
provided from the operator’s headset at dual input jack
phrase indicating the name of the facility answering the
88. One output of dual input jack 88 is coupled over link
incoming call and a message of inquiry assistance to be
read back to the caller, the corresponding switch on the
operator’s panel would couple an associated code over
71 to an ampli?er 101. The other side of the jack is
coupled over link 81 to the sleeve lead of the telephone
line at the operator position. The other half of dual
input jack 88 has one line 83 grounded while the other
link 42 to buffer 41. The operator would then proceed
to record the message to be stored in memory. As the
operator begins recording the message, the voice detec
tor unit within the audio interface unit 30 (FIG. 3) cou
ples a signal over line 43 to buffer 53. Within the control
unit ,14, processor 61 cycles through the monitoring of
buffers 36, 37, 41 and 53 via data bus 45, address bus 52
and control bus 62, in a conventional fashion. When a
?rst voice bit in buffer 53 is detected, processor 61
begins reading out the contents of buffer 36, which
receives the digitized voice from analyzer unit 32, as the
voice is digitized by ADC 24, coupled to shift register
line 82 is coupled to the sleeve portion of the telephone
link to the caller 70. Ampli?er 101 ampli?es the opera
tor’s input voice signal from the operator’s microphone
to the appropriate level for the circuitry of the audio
interface unit and couples that signal over line 102 to an
automatic level control ampli?er 103. Line 102 is also
coupled to the output of a low pass ?lter 96 the input of
which is coupled to a switch 91 through link 95. Switch
91 is coupled to the audio output link 21 from the stor
age and retrieval unit 20 in FIG. 2. As mentioned above,
link 21 supplies the read-out or synthesized voice that
These digital codes, representative of the voice message
had been previously stored in memory. During the
PLAYBACK mode, this voice signal is coupled over
to be stored, are coupled over bus 45 and stored in
link 21 to terminal 93 and over switch link 94 to low
31 and serialized over link 33 to voice analyzer 32.
pass ?lter 96. Thus, there is an effective summation of
sequential addresses in RAM 51. When the message is
the operator’s voice and the audio output over link 102
complete, as indicated by lack of a voice detect signal
on link 43, the processor terminates the generation of 25 to the input of automatic level control ampli?er 103.
During the RECORD mode, there is no output over
address signals for the storage of the message in RAM
link 21 to the audio interface unit, so that switch arm 94
51.
is coupled to terminal 92, which is grounded.
Each additional message is handled in the same way
The output of automatic level control ampli?er 103 is
until the operator has completed his/her recording of
coupled via link 105 to a current-voltage converter 104,
~-all the response phrases that are to be used during the
terminal 106 of switch 115 and ampli?er 116. Current
-‘ operator’s work period. The response phrase ?le con
voltage converter 104 may comprise a transistor ampli
tained in RAM 51 may then be removed from the unit
?er, the collector of which is coupled over link 73 to
employed for message recording for subsequent use in
one input of a diode bridge circuit 74. The other input is
the storage and retrieval system at the operator’s work
station. Again, because the operator is able to record 35 coupled to ground. Output 75 of bridge circuit 74 is
coupled to the tip lead of the telephone link to the oper
his/her voice in a time frame approximate that during
ator position 10 while output 76 is coupled to the tip
which the operator will be on-line with incoming calls,
lead of the telephone link to the caller 70.
. characteristics of the voice as stored in memory will be
Thus, via the dual microphone input jack 88, audio
‘substantially identical to that of the operator when the
40 input link 21 and outputs 75 and 76 of bridge circuit 74,
.i ? operator is on-line.
both the caller and the operator’s headset are coupled in
PLAYBACK MODE
parallel to receive the voice from both the operator’s
microphone input and th voice from the audio output
During the playback mode of operation, when a call
from the synthesizer.
type is detected, either through an operator-controlled
As mentioned above, output link 105 from automatic
interface set of switches on the operator’s control panel, 45
level control ampli?er 103 is coupled to terminal 106 of
or automatically, as mentioned above, an access code
switch 115. Like switch 91, switch 115 has PLAY
(corresponding to that originally entered by the opera
BACK and RECORD mode positions. During the
tor during the recording of the messages) is coupled
PLAYBACK mode, switch arm 111 of switch 115 is
over link 42 to buffer 41. Then processor 61 reads the
access code stored in buffer 41 and generates the appro
priate address signals for accessing the corresponding
coupled to terminal 107 (floating), so that there is no
output coupled over link 112 from terminal 108 to a low
pass ?lter 113. The output of ?lter 113 is coupled via
ampli?er 114 to audio input link 11 to the voice analyzer
portion of the storage and retrieval unit 20 shown in
message is coupled from memory 51 over bus 45 and
latched in output latch 37. During the read-out cycle 55 FIG. 2. In the RECORD mode, however, during which
the operator is reading aloud a response message to be
provided by input output select logic unit 44, the con
response message that had been previously stored in
memory 51 during the RECORD mode. The response
stored in memory, switch arm 111 is coupled to terminal
106, so that the operator’s voice is coupled over link 11
to the storage and retrieval unit.
that analog audio signals are supplied over line 21 corre
A further component of the audio interface unit is a
sponding to the message of interest as it is accessed from 60
tents of output buffer 37 are coupled over link 35 to the
synthesizer portion of voice analyzer/synthesizer 32, so
memory 51. These analog audio signals are coupled
over link 21 to audio interface unit 30 in FIG. 3.
?rst voice detector which comprises an ampli?er 116
coupled to link 105 and a monostable multi-vibrator (or
one-shot) 117 coupled to the output of ampli?er 116.
AUDIO INTERFACE UNIT (FIG. 3)
The output of one-shot 117 is coupled to link 43 to
' Referring now to FIG. 3, there is shown a schematic
provide a ?rst voice indication. Simply put, ampli?er
block diagram of the audio interface unit 30. As ex
116 and one-shot 117 monitor line 105 for a voice signal
and then supply a trigger signal over line 43 to be stored
in buffer 41, as mentioned previously.
plained previously, this unit is coupled to the telephone
voice lines for both the operator’s position and the cal
9
4,697,282
10
ing to that voice response message. When the operator
had previously read that message from a carefully pre
Operation
As mentioned above, the audio interface unit operates
pared and supervised text during the record mode of the
in either RECORD mode or a PLAYBACK mode.
system, the operator did so in a clear and courteous
RECORD MODE
manner and pleasant tone while fresh and interested.
Because the operator now hears his/her tone of voice
being played back in such a manner, the operator is
During the RECORD mode, the operator is reading
a message to be analyzed and converted into digital
signals for storage in memory in the storage and re
being effectively psychologically stimulated to follow
his/her own voice and not create a discontinuity to the
trieval unit 20 (FIG. 2). During this mode, each of
listener. Thus, not only does the present invention pre
vent the above-mentioned confusion problem from aris
switches 91 and 115 is switched to the RECORD mode
position by the operator. The operator then speaks the
ing, but it effectively provides guidance for the operator
messages into the microphone of his/her headset. The
analog audio signals are coupled over link 71, ampli?ed
in the manner in which the operator should speak to the
caller, thus acting as a voice refresher.
by ampli?er 101 and then level-controlled by ampli?er
103. The output of ampli?er 103 is coupled via switch S
115 to low pass ?lter 113 and ?nally to ampli?er 114 for
application to the audio input link 11 which is coupled
to the digital storage and retrieval portion of the system.
While we have shown and described one embodiment
in accordance with the present invention, it is under
stood that the same is not limited thereto but is suscepti
ble of numerous changes and modi?cations as known to
a person skilled in the art, and we therefore do not wish
The operator is able to listen to his/her voice by the
to be limited to the details shown and described herein
20
coupling of tip leads 75 and 76 and sleeve leads 81 and
but intend to cover all such changes and modi?cations
82 t0 the operator’s position, as shown in FIG. 3.
as are obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art.
PLAYBACK MODE
What is claimed:
1. For use with an operator-assisted telephone service
When the operator has ?nished recording all of the
response messages that will be employed during the 25 facility in which on-line participation by an on-line
operator is required for effectively enabling an'incom
operator’s tour of duty, the operator changes the posi
ing caller to reach a called destination, an arrangement
for providing a response message to said incoming cal
tions of switches 91 and 115 to the PLAYBACK posi
tion (the position shown in FIG. 3). In this position,
ler accessing said facility comprising:
switch 91 couples any audio output from the storage
and retrieval unit to automatic level control ampli?er
103 for application over link 73 to both output tip lead
75 and output tip lead 76. The voice signal is not cou
pled to the audio input link 11, since switch 115 is effec
?rst operational means for storing at least one pre
scribed response message, which, when played
back, effectively corresponds to the voice of the
operator who is on-line with and services incoming
calls; and
tively open. Any voice signal spoken by the operator
into the operator’s microphone in his/her headset is 35
coupled via ampli?er 101 and link 102 to ampli?er 103
and fed downstream to both the operator and caller
positions in exactly the same manner as the audio output
from the voice synthesizer in the storage and retrieval
unit as coupled over link 21. Thus, the operator is able
to listen to both the voice message that is being played
back from the storage and retrieval portion of the sys
tem and his/her own voice when he/she speaks during
further conversation with the caller. This monitoring
capability and the fact that the operator is listening to
his/her own previously recorded voice offers a signi?
second operational means, coupled to said ?rst opera
tional means and operable in conjunction with the
on-line operator’s servicing of an incoming call, for
accessing a response message from said ?rst opera
tional means in dependence upon information con
tained within said incoming call being serviced by
said on-line operator and which is representative of
the type of call to which said incoming call corre
sponds, and causing said accessed response mes
sage to be played back to said incoming caller.
45 _ 2. An arrangement according to claim 1, wherein said
second. operational means includes means for providing
a path for coupling voice messages from said operator
to said incoming caller in addition to coupling said
played-back message from said ?rst operational means
to said incoming caller.
3. An arrangement according to claim 1, wherein said
second operational means includes means for enabling
the simultaneous coupling to said incoming caller of a
line 21, appears to be the same voice, in terms of quality
voice message from said operator and of a played-back
and amplitude. The quality is the same because the
voice message is a message in the voice of the operator 55 message from said ?rst operational means.
4. An arrangement according to claim 3, wherein said
who is actually providing the service at the telephone
second operational means includes means for adjusting,
facility handling the caller’s incoming call. In addition,
cant improvement over conventional automatic re
sponse systems.
More speci?cally, the voice that is heard by the caller
70, whether it be the operator’s own voice supplied
from the operator’s microphone over input link 71, or
from the audio output from the synthesizer over input
because both the operator’s voice signal supplied from
his/her microphone and'the synthesized voice signal
supplied from the digital storage equipment are coupled
to the same ampli?cation and level adjustment cir
cuitry, there is no sharp in?ection or level change be
tween the two voice signals. Thus, the storage and
retrieval and audio processing circuitry is effectively
in effectively the same manner, at least one prescribed
characteristic of each of said voice message from said
60
operator and said played back message from said ?rst
operational means.
5. An arrangement according to claim 4, wherein said
adjusting means includes means for adjusting the ampli
tude of messages coupled by said second operational
65 means to said incoming caller.
listener transparent.
6. An arrangement according to claim 1, wherein said
An additional advantage of the present invention is
the fact that when a response message is initially played
back to the caller, the operator, while resting, is listen
second means includes means for coupling a voice mes
sage from said operator to be stored by said ?rst means
11
4,697,282
12
-
path for a response message played back as a voice
through a common signal-?ow path for a response mes
sage played back as a voice message to said incoming
caller.
message to said incoming caller.
-
16. A method according to claim 15, wherein said
step (b) includes simultaneouly enabling the coupling to
7. An arrangement according to claim 1, wherein said
?rst operational means includes means forinitiating the
said incoming caller of a voice message from said opera
storage of a response message as voiced by said opera
tor in response to the voicing of said message by said
tor and a response message played back as a voice mes
sage.
17. A method according to claim 16, wherein step (b)
operator.
includes adjusting at least one prescribed characteristic
of each of said voice message from said operator and
said played back message in effectively the same man
8. An arrangement according to claim 1, wherein said
second operational means includes means for enabling
said operatorv to monitor said incoming call and the
response message played back in response thereto while
also being able to effect a voice communication with
ner.
18. A method according to claim 10, wherein step (a)
includes initiating the storage of a response message as
said incoming caller.
15 voiced by said operator in response to the voicing of
9. An arrangement according to claim 8, wherein said
said message by said operator.
.
second operational means includes means for adjusting,
19. A method according to claim 10, wherein step (b)
in effectively the same manner, at least one prescribed
includes enabling said operator to monitor said incom
characteristic of each of a voice communication from
ing call and the response message played back in re
said operator and a response message played back to an
sponse thereto while also providing the capability of
incoming caller.
effecting a voice communication with said incoming
10. For use with an operator-assisted telphone service
caller.
20. A method according to claim 19, wherein step (b)
facility_in which on-line participation by an on-line
operator is requried for effectively enabling an incom
comprises the step of adjusting, in effectively in the
ing caller to reach a called destination, a method of 25 same manner, at least one prescribed characteristic of
supplying response messages to an incoming caller ac
each of a voice communication from said operator and
cessing said facility comprising the steps of:
a response message played back to an incoming caller.
21. For use with an operator-assisted telephone ser
(a) storing at least one prescribed response message
which, when played back, effectively corresponds
to ‘the voice of the operator who is on-line with and
vice facility in which on-line participation by an on-line
ooerator is required for effectively enabling an incom
services incoming calls; and
(b) in conjunction with the on-line operator’s servic-,
ing caller to reach a called destination, an arrangement
for providing a response message to an incoming caller
ing of an incoming call, accessing a response mes
sage from said at least one prescribed response
message in dependence upon information con 35
tained within said incoming call being serviced by
said on-line operator and which is representative of
the type of call to which; said incoming call corre
sponds, and causing said response message to be
40
played back to said incoming caller.
11. A method according to claim 10, further includ
ing the step of
(c) enabling the coupling of voice messages from said
accessing said facility comprising:
(a) .a response message storage and retrieval unit
adapted to store and retrieve at least one prescribed
response message, which, when played back, effec
tively corresponds to the voice of the operator
who is on-line with and services incoming calls;
and
(b) an audio interface unit, coupled to said response
message storage and retrieval unit, which is opera
ble in conjunction with the on-line operator’s ser
vicing of an incoming call and accesses a response
message from said response message storage and
retrieval unit in dependence upon information con
operator to said incoming caller in addition to caus
ing said response message to be played back to said
tained within the incoming call being serviced by
incoming caller.
said on-line operator and which is representative of
the type of call to which said incoming call corre
12. A method according to claim 10, wherein step (b)
includes simultaneously enabling the coupling to said
sponds, and causes said accessed response message
incoming caller of a voice message from said operator
and playing back an accessed response message to said
to be played back to said incoming caller.
22. An arrangement according to claim 21, wherein
said audio interface unit includes means for enabling the
incoming caller.
13. A method according to claim 12, further includ
operator to monitor an incoming call and a response
ing the step of
message accessed from said storage and retrieval unit
(c) adjusting, in effectively the same manner, at least
one prescribed characteristic of each of said voice
message from said operator and said played back
message.
and played back to said incoming caller, while also
being able to effect a voice communication with said
incoming caller.
23. An arrangement according to claim 22, wherein
'14. A method according to claim 13, wherein step (0)
said audio interface unit includes means for adjusting, in
includes adjusting the amplitude of messages coupled to 60 effectively the same manner, at least one prescribed
said incoming caller.
characterized of each of a voice communication from
15. A method according to claim 10, wherein said
said operator and a response message played back to an
~step (b) includes coupling a voice message from said
incoming caller.
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operator to be stored through a common signal-flow
65
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