Page last updated at 09:40 GMT, Friday, 24 July 2009 10:40 UK

Voice technology firm hits back

By Rory Cellan-Jones
Technology correspondent, BBC News

Mouth, BBC
Spinvox says humans are needed to check text

Voice-to-text firm Spinvox has reacted to BBC allegations over its technology, finances and privacy standards.

In a blog post on its company website, it described the allegations as "both incorrect and inaccurate".

The BBC has been told that most voice mail calls handled by Spinvox are transcribed by call centre staff, rather than converted automatically.

In the blog post, Spinvox said this was incorrect. "All speech technology requires training," it added.

Humans were used to correct and inspect some audio and text, but it said Spinvox had delivered "world-leading breakthroughs" in speech recognition technology.

Data register

The Buckinghamshire-based company, founded in 2003, also denied that it had broken data protection rules by sending messages out of Europe for transcription.

It said it was permitted to process data outside the European Economic Area and its security systems had the confidence of both customers and investors.

But its entry in the Data Protection Register says there will be no transfers outside Europe.

When the BBC contacted the Information Commissioner's office again after Spinvox's statement a spokesman said it would still be writing to the firm about this issue.

It does appear that the company is trying to expand its call centre operations overseas to handle big new contracts in Latin America.

In a recent Spinvox advert on an outsourcing website, the company said it was in need "of some significant support" with voice-to-text transcription services.

It went on to explain that the work involved "a combination of voice to text transcription & quality assurance for some messages that have been automatically converted by our voice recognition platforms."

In its blog the company also denies that it is facing financial problems after staff were asked to take part of their pay in the form of share options.

It says that is an "opportunity" it routinely offers staff, and that it currently operates profitably.

The most recent accounts for Spinvox show that in 2007 it made a loss of £36m on revenue of £2m. The average pay in a workforce of 219 was £96,369, and the highest paid director earned £546,000.

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