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May 31, 2000

Lou Saviano: 510 739-0621

Got Phone? Got Web! Begins Testing netECHO™ Service in
Bay Area,
 Letting Users Speak to, Hear Web Any Site
Over Any Phone

SAN JOSE -- (May 31, 2000) -- today announced that it is testing an early version of its new netECHO™ service in Silicon Valley, allowing trial participants to hear information from any Web site by using an ordinary telephone, payphone or cell phone.

  netECHO™ allows users go “on-line” by dialing a toll-free number, and give simple voice commands to go to any Web site, search for information, or check their e-mail. They'll also be able to directly access news, sports, weather, stock quotes, directions and other popular information.

"When you can't 'point and click' your way to the Net, netECHO™ lets you talk your way to the Net, over the phone, and hear the content of any Web site" said Dr. Emdad Khan, president and CEO of, which developed netECHO™.

 “We’re asking test participants to share their opinions about this preliminary version of netECHO™ before we introduce it to the market,” said Ed Kennedy, vice president of marketing and sales for  Residents who live in the San Francisco Bay Area who are interested in participating in the trial should send an e-mail that includes their name, home phone number and address, to The company plans to gradually increase the number of trial participants.

"We’ve developed an Intelligent Agent that uses speech recognition technology to understand your request, goes to the Web site and gathers just the important information," Khan said.  “It then uses text-to-speech technology to read it out loud, over the phone.”

 “The telephone is a simple tool that everyone is familiar and comfortable with,” added Khan, “so we’ve figured out a way to combine the convenience of the phone, with the power of the Internet.  We believe there are  times when people would rather talk and listen, rather than type and read, and netECHO™ makes that possible.”

Voice portals are just starting to hit the marketplace, but only offers audio Internet access, allowing users to search the entire Internet, and hear what’s on any Web page.  Like the portals, netECHO™ will provide easy access to often-desired information, such as stock quotes, news updates, weather and horoscopes.

"Unlike the portals, netECHO™ provides true audio Internet access, so subscribers can search for and retrieve information from anywhere on the Web," Khan said.  "They’re not limited to the information their provider has decided is useful."

Subscribers can go to a particular Web site by spelling out the URL, or by saying the bookmarked name. has identified several popular sites that users may choose to visit, such as Yahoo, CNBC, ESPN, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, C-net, Women, the Drudge Report, the San Jose Mercury and SF Gate.  Users reach those sites simply by saying the name. 

Subscribers may also set their own bookmarks, using any name they choose. 

The initial product will allow users to access their Web-based Yahoo e-mail, and later versions will include access to other Web-based e-mail systems, such as Hotmail and AOL mail.  Future versions will also feature language translation capabilities, so that Web pages can be retrieved and read in other languages, such as Spanish, German or Japanese.

Other Products
netECHO™ is initially being launched as a retail product, but is working with a Fortune 500 computer manufacturer, telephone and portal companies, Internet Service Providers and Application Service Providers to deploy the technology nationwide.

It is also working on a business-to-business software product that companies can use to allow customers to call in and hear what’s on their Web sites.  The product uses technology to automatically rework their site, making it more user-friendly in an audio format.  As the site changes, the software automatically updates the audio version.  Alternative products which convert Web pages into audio format are manual in nature, and are therefore slower, and more expensive.

About develops, markets and supports an Audio Internet Browser, netECHO™ , which provides audio-based telephone access to the Internet for businesses and individuals. The company's patent-pending technology can be bundled with other products, such as traditional computer-based Internet access, or voice mail, and can be customized to meet individual business needs, such as employee access to Intranet sites. is also developing business software that automates the process of voice-enabling a company's Web site, furthering development of the "voice web." is a privately held company headquartered in San Jose, Calif., It currently has licenses to use text-to-speech technology from Lernout & Hauspie and speech recognition technology from SpeechWorks International, Inc. For more information about, visit, or call 1-408-360-7730.


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