Yahoo this week debuted a new toll-free number that will enable registered members to have their e-mail messages read back to them over the telephone.
The new service, called Yahoo by Phone, also allows callers to set up a free voice mail account which they can access by telephone or computer.
Yahoo, Santa Clara, CA, has hired speech technology firm SpeechWorks International, Boston, to convert the e-mail messages from text to voice. SpeechWorks' text-to-speech engine, Speechify, translates the e-mail text into a synthesized voice.
Consumers can sign up for a 10-digit mailbox number and invite others to leave them voice messages by dialing 800-My-Yahoo and entering the mailbox number of the person they are trying to reach. Both the voice mail and e-mail messages can be listened to and managed over the telephone.
Yahoo by Phone callers also can access other Yahoo services and information, such as finance, headline news, weather and sports.