`I'm Mavis, how can I help you?'
Monday 18 January 1999
She can handle 56 calls at once, in up to seven languages. Furthermore, as the makers note, she will work without demanding a holiday, or even a lunch break, or even time to sleep.
Mavis - which stands for Multi Language Automated Voice Independent System - is not a person; it is a piece of software that runs on a standard PC. It works by recognising words from a caller's voice and matching them to a database of names and departments within a company. Ask for "John Smith" and the computer will find that person's extension and put you through; it can even be programmed to ask you first for your name, which it will repeat to Mr Smith.
Mavis was developed by PTT, a subsidiary of the US company Carnegie International, and is being marketed in the UK by Graham Burrough."Mavis can do all the things that a receptionist can, apart from make the coffee," said Mr Burrough. "The voice quality means most people calling won't realise it's a machine."
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