VOICE-CONTROLLED VOICE MAIL names from the list, such as. "mom S." The message in the
HAVING RANDOM-ORDER MESSAGE database associated with "mom S" will be delivered to the
RETRIEVAL BASED ON PLAYED SPOKEN called party.
IDENTIFIER LIST After listening to the message, the called party has several
5 options including replying to the message or tagging it. To
TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION reply_ ^ called party can simply say «<repiy." The voice mail
This invention relates to data retrieval and more particular system will then record the reply and attempt to deliver the
to a system and method for retrieval of temporarily stored "P^ to the caller via *e associated return address. To tag
data using voice commands and even more particularly to a message, the called party can simply say "tag." The voice
such systems and methods for retrieving voice mail by 10 mail system wiu then PTM"^ the called P31^ for how to
simply saying the name of the person who left the message. ^atthe called P^-For example, the voice mail system can
be configured to page the called party whenever the tagged
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION caller calls. The voice mail system recognizes the tagged
, caller by utilizing the previously stored identity.
It has now become almost common place for callers to „ _ . . . ..... ., , ,
i „^ „^ m,n m^^„TM. « „„ii J A „ * The foregoing has outlined rather broadly the features and
leave voice mad messages when a called party does not .... . . . .
tu~ „ T,t ,.,.,-t, .„.tTM. TMnLi „f technical advantages of the present invention in order that
answer the telephone. In such systems the called party at ?■ . i£ ,,
some future time calls into a database to retrieve the mes- 'he *s<^°?. °f thf TM that/oUows ^ be
sage. To accomplish this task, the called party must enter a better underst°°d- Addltl0^ ff tures and *»VMtages of the
-Jw „f „„m^,„^o t,TM ,ua Tma ,„ , invention will be described hereinafter which form the
series or commands from the keypad and listen to various ln ,. ,. , . . „ , . .
• „, it„ • „„. ,„ ,u:„ TM,„> ■,,•„ „, u„ subject of the claims of the invention. It should be appre
voice prompts in order to hear (or skip over) his or her .... , . . . ,
~^ro„o. T^m:„„ii,, ,u~ ,w» tu „„ ciated by those skilled in the art that the conception and the
messages. Typically, the party desiring to retrieve the mes- .... , ... ...
sages does not know the content of the message and only in emb^ment losed ^ube u^zed as a some situations (for example, when the party leaving the bas,s « Signing other sttuctures for carrymessage happens to be associated with the same system as 25 ln§ <f *e same purposes of the present invention. It should the called party) does the retrieving party even know the fIso beTeahzed * thosef^"1such equivaidentity of the party leaving the message. lent constructions do not depart from the spirit and scope of , the invention as set forth in the appended claims. In addition, the party retrieving the messages often cannot
deliver a response to the caller unless the caller has an BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
account on the same voice mail system as the retrieving 30 For a more compiete understanding of the present
party. Moreover, there is no way for the called party to inventioll- ^ tte advantages thereof, reference is now
identify certain callers and provide those callers with special ^ t0 the following descriptions taken in conjunction with
Thus, it would be advantageous if the retrieving party mG !jjjustrat;s a voic; maiJ system adapted t0 execute
could retrieve data, such as messages, in random order and 35 (j,e ... invention
without entering a series of digits or responding to a series TM~, • a \ . -i. .. ^ i_- ■-• ■
* • - • n. * ui u i u t. • FIG. 2 is a flow chart illustrating a hierarchical menu
of inquiries. Preferably, such retrieval would be voice acti- ,. _ .. . „. .
vated 1 system according to the present invention; and
.. . . , . ... , . . FIG. 3 is a flow chart illustrating the steps performed
I would be a further advantage if the retrieving party when a d ^ ^ ,he vofce ^ £ nG L
could deliver a response to a caller located outside of the
retrieving party's voice mail system. DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED
It would be yet another advantage if the retrieving party EMBODIMENTS
could identify particular callers and provide special handling FIG. 1 illustrates a high-level overview of a voice mail
for subsequent calls from those particular callers. 45 system and related components adapted to execute the
present invention. Shown are a telephone 110, a switching system 112 such as a central office or private branch
These and other advantages are achieved by a system and exchange, and a voice mail system 114. Telephone 110 is a
method in which a caller who is about to input data for standard telephone having a DTMF keypad 116 by which
subsequent retrieval by another person is asked to identify 50 commands and numbers can be entered. It should be rec
himself or herself. The caller then provides his or her name, ognized that other devices, such a computer modem, can be
a nickname, a code name, etc. In addition, the caller is asked substituted for telephone 110 and used with respect to the
to leave a return address indicating where the caller can be present invention as described below,
reached. The system then records the spoken identity and the Switching system 112 functions as a stand alone call
associated return address in a database. 55 processor. Calls placed from telephone 110 may eventually
The called party, in a voice-mail system, then queries the be directed by switching system 112 to voice mail system
system to determine if messages are waiting and receives 114. Voice mail system 114 answers the call and processes
from the system a spoken list of identities. These identities it as described below. Voice mail system 114 stores infor
are the identities which were previously stored in the data- mation necessary to perform its functions in database 118.
base. The called party then speaks (repeats) one of the go Database 118 can be any general purpose storage device,
identities from the list and the system then retrieves the data such as a hard drive.
associated with that spoken identity. Throughout this specification, reference is made to a
When the called party begins to retrieve his or her "caller" and a "subscriber." Unless otherwise indicated, the
messages, for example, the called party will hear the mes- caller is the person leaving a message and the subscriber is
sage: "You have five messages. Your messages are from, 65 the person for whom the message is left.
Billy. Tom. Jim. David, and Mom S. Which message do you When the caller connects with the subscriber's voice mail
desire to hear?" The speaker will respond with one of the system 114, the system prompts the caller to input a name